FMCSA extends COVID hours of service waiver another 3 months

From Freight Waves.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s COVID-19 hours of service waiver has been extended yet again.

The waiver was to expire Tuesday. But late last week, just prior to the holiday weekend, it was extended again. The original COVID waiver was put into place March 13, 2020, in the first days of the pandemic. Since then, it has been both modified and extended several times, with the most recent expansion coming just a few weeks ago, when the transport of propane, natural gas and heating oil was brought under the waiver.

The latest extension takes the COVID waiver out another three months, to Aug. 31.

Under the waiver and its extension, HOS requirements are waived for vehicles that are “providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19.”

Shipments of goods that fall under the waiver are:

  • Livestock and livestock feed.
  • Medical supplies related to testing and diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • Vaccines and related products.
  • Supplies of “equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19.” Masks and hand sanitizer are cited as examples.
  • Gasoline, diesel and diesel exhaust fluid and the most recent additions of propane, natural gas and heating oil.

There is a requirement that drivers taking advantage of the waiver report into FMCSA monthly about their use of the exemption.

See the complete article online at Freight Waves.

mtac shield

Action needed in fight for CDL training funds

MTAC is fighting to make workforce development funds available to help train new CDL drivers, and we need your help. The funds in question are federal funds that are distributed to states under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Connecticut must decide how they want to use those funds.

It is possible that some of the ARPA funds could be dedicated to paying the cost of CDL training school. CDL training school tuition could be partially or fully covered for eligible individuals. Generally, individuals who would be eligible to have their CDL training school costs covered are those who have become unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MTAC members need to help in this fight for funds by sending in letters of support to the Office of Workforce Strategy (OWS). OWS will ultimately decide if funds will be made available for CDL training. Such letter should discuss how many CDL job openings your business has, among other things.

A template letter in Microsoft Word format is available here. Once you have tailored the letter to make it specific to your business, put it on company letterhead and send it to OWS (address included in template), and also email a copy to MTAC’s Joe Sculley.

Thank you for your support.

MG+M law firm logo

COVID-19 vaccine & masking regulation in light of the SCOTUS stay of OSHA mandate

From MG+M The Law Firm.

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Biden Administration’s vaccine and masking emergency rule for large employers.[1] The “Vaccine Mandate,” a rule enacted by the Biden Administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), applied to all employers with 100 or more workers. The Vaccine Mandate required employers to mandate that employees either receive a COVID-19 vaccination or wear a mask at work and undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.[2] The Court based its 6 to 3 decision on separation of powers principles: OSHA, in promulgating a rule that affected 84 million Americans, exceeded its authority to regulate occupational safety related to the workplace.[3] One of the majority opinion’s most memorable (and lyrical) lines summed up the Court’s view that the Vaccine Mandate was improperly overbroad: “[M]ost lifeguards and linemen [unconstitutionally] face the same regulations as do medics and meatpackers.”[4]

The Court reasoned that OSHA’s generalized vaccine mandate fell outside the scope of authority delegated by Congress to the government agency.[5] As a principle of administrative law and the separation of powers, an executive agency may not undertake a regulatory action unless it has express or implied authorization by Congress to do so.[6] Moreover, “‘[w]e expect Congress to speak clearly [grant express authorization]’ if it wishes to assign to an executive agency decisions of ‘vast economic and political significance.’”[7]  The critical distinction, relying on the statutory language of the OSHA Act, was whether COVID-19 was an “occupational hazard,” and, thus, within OSHA’s regulatory purview as it is delegated by Congress. The Court said “no.”  The majority held that the virus is a “universal risk,” no more particular to the workplace than to “schools… sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather.”[8] “Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”[9]

The Supreme Court’s decision took immediate effect and removed the federal vaccine and masking mandate for large employers.[10] And, as a result of the decision, the patchwork of state and local laws and guidelines related to vaccines remain in place.[11]

Major American employers have responded in varying fashions to the January 13, 2022 stay of the OSHA mandate.[12] Citigroup, Inc., for instance, will leave in place its self-imposed mandate, whereby all employees must receive a vaccination by January 31, 2022, or face termination.[13] On the other hand, General Electric Co. suspended its remaining COVID-19 vaccine requirements.[14]

Federal vaccine requirements do not go away with the Supreme Court’s ruling. While the Court’s decision makes clear that general mandates such as the OSHA rule violate constitutional separation of powers principles, the majority stated: “Where the virus poses a special danger because of the particular features of an employee’s job or workplace, targeted regulations are plainly permissible.”[15] In other words, an OSHA vaccine rule may be constitutional if it is targeted and/or based on an occupational risk related to COVID-19 that is particular to a specific sector or industry.

As it stands, it is unclear whether OSHA or another federal agency will attempt to craft a vaccine and/or masking regulation for the trucking industry. In light of the continued fight in federal and state courts around vaccine and masking mandates, any such rule would likely be challenged.

[1] Nat’l Fed’m of Indep. Bus. V. Dep’t of Lab., Occupational Safety & Health Admin., 595 U.S. ___ (2022).

[2] Id. at 1.

[3] See id. at 9 (“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly.”).

[4] Id. at 3-4.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 2 (Gorsuch, J. concurring).

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 6-7.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] See e.g., New York, New York, “Order of the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to Require COVID-19 Vaccination in the Workplace” (Dec. 13, 2021).

[12] Chip Cutter, With Biden Mandate Blocked, Many Companies Won’t Impose Covid-19 Vaccine Rules, Wall Street Journal (Jan. 13, 2022),

[13] Thomas Gryta & David Benoit, Citigroup Sticks With Its Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate, While GE Drops Its Rules, Wall Street Journal (Jan. 15, 2022),

[14] Id.

[15] Nat’l Fed’n of Indep. Bus., 595 U.S. ___, at 7.

Border congestion feared as vaccination requirements change in January

From Transport Topics.

The flow of freight between the United States and its neighbors Canada and Mexico could slow beginning in January, as all three countries adopt more stringent COVID-19 vaccine requirements for cross-border truck traffic.

“All inbound foreign national travelers seeking to enter the United States via land points of entry or ferry terminals — whether for essential or nonessential reasons — must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination,” said a bulletin from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. While the Nov. 23 announcement said only that the restrictions would be adopted in January, it’s expected they’ll take effect Jan. 22.

The DHS rule applies to non-U.S. citizens crossing into the country.

The Canadian Ministry of Health’s new regulations, set to take effect Jan. 15, state that certain groups of travelers — among them essential providers such as truck drivers — cannot enter Canada unless they have been fully vaccinated. This applies to U.S. drivers entering the country, a group that previously had been exempt from vaccination requirements.

Mexico’s rule, also set to take effect Jan. 15, states, “all inbound non-immigrant foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land ports of entry or ferry terminals – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination.” Here again, U.S. drivers are included.

American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello expressed trepidation about how the flow of freight into and out of the three countries could be affected

“I am concerned about all of this, and what we need is more time,” Costello told Transport Topics. “It’s not like we are anti-vaccine, but the reality is a lot of these drivers are not vaccinated, and we already have supply chain problems. Our number one export market for U.S. goods is Canada. I don’t want to be alarmist, but this is significant.”

Costello said Canadian officials enacted their tighter vaccine requirements after the U.S. decision.

See the complete article online at Transport Topics.

FMCSA extends HOS waiver through February amid COVID-19 concerns

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended regulatory waivers related to truckers’ allowable work time, citing public health concerns.

The waiver associated with commercial drivers’ maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles was extended through Feb. 28.

FMCSA explained, “although the number of COVID-19 cases began to decline in the U.S. following widespread introduction of vaccinations, persistent issues arising out of COVID-19 continue to affect the U.S. including impacts on supply chains and the need to ensure capacity to respond to variants and potential rises in infections.”

“Therefore, a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains,” FMCSA stated in announcing the extension to the regulatory waiver, which took effect Dec. 1. “This extension of the modified emergency declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies and provides necessary relief from the [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations] for motor carriers and drivers.”

Specifically, the hours-of-service waiver is applicable to commercial drivers and carriers tasked with directly providing relief services related to essential services, medical care and supplies that respond to COVID-19.

According to FMCSA, the waiver is limited to the transportation of livestock, as well as livestock feed, and medical supplies for the treatment of COVID-19.

It also is limited to vaccines, ancillary supplies and kits for the administration of vaccines, and supplies and equipment deemed necessary for public safety. Additionally, it pertains to masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants. It also pertains to food, certain paper products, emergency restocking of distribution hubs, and gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and ethyl alcohol.

See the complete article online at Transport Topics.

FMCSA logo

FMCSA extends Emergency Declaration through May 31

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has again extended its emergency declaration offering regulatory relief to truckers involved in coronavirus-related assistance efforts.

The declaration, which has been extended to May 31, applies to commercial motor vehicle drivers providing direct assistance in support of emergency efforts related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This extension of the expanded modified emergency declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies and provides necessary relief from the [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations] for motor carriers and drivers,” FMCSA’s notice states.

Like its previous iterations, the declaration applies to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It continues the exemption from Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which cover hours of service, parts and accessories needed for safe operation, and longer combination vehicles.

According to FMCSA’s notice, direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads “with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Facing filling order books, truck OEMs staring down supply chain shortages and concerns

From Commercial Carrier Journal.

A global shortage of semiconductor chips has thrown vehicle production plans for some of the world’s largest automakers into question.

Ford and GM are among the major players to already announce production limitations that could last into the spring. The chip shortage was spurred by COVID-related vehicle assembly plant shutdowns. With production lines stopped, semiconductor manufacturers pivoted capacity to consumer electronics – sales of which were surging on stay-at-home orders and prodded by a new remote workforce.

Semiconductor chips require assembly lead times as long as several weeks – if not months – and the demand for new vehicles was not expected to be so strong coming out of a pandemic-depressed economy.

About 217,000 Class 8 trucks were ordered in 2020, and forecasts call for between 250,000 to 280,000 orders this year.

“We feel that we’re on the higher end of that,” said Kenworth General Manager Kevin Baney. “Fleet activity is up, strong vocational market and used truck prices are increasing. Everything is really coming together. We really feel like ’21 is going to be a robust year.”

Semiconductor availability thus far hasn’t impacted heavy truck builds to the extent it has automotive builds, but FTR Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Don Ake noted “the computer chip shortage is limiting production.”

Daimler Trucks North America said in a statement provided to CCJ that the shortage of chips “is a situation we continue to monitor very closely, but [has had] no direct impact to our production plan to-date.”

See the complete article from CCJ online.

US Capital

US House Transportation Panel delves into COVID concerns

From Transport Topics.

The new year means a new session of Congress and the opportunity to achieve reforms across the federal landscape.

To do so, lawmakers point to the need to push ahead on a resolution to the coronavirus pandemic. This week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee scheduled a hearing to assess the pandemic’s impact on the country’s mobility networks, and potential solutions to ongoing problems.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the panel’s chairman, explained he intends to examine gaps in safety practices pertaining to passengers and the transportation workforce during the national health crisis.

“As our nation mourns the loss of more than 430,000 Americans to COVID-19, transportation workers around the country continue to show up for work to drive buses and trains, ensure the safety of passengers on airplanes, move freight by truck, ship, rail and air, and repair roads and bridges — all to keep our communities and economy moving,” DeFazio said in a statement to Transport Topics. “That includes truck drivers, who are vital to keeping grocery stores stocked with supplies and transporting personal protective equipment, or PPE, and other medical equipment, including life-saving vaccines, throughout the country during the pandemic.”

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Panel recommends vaccinations for everyone over 65-years-old

From CT News Junkie.

A Connecticut advisory panel added everyone over the age of 65 and any adult with one federally-defined medical condition to its guidelines for the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout Tuesday.

As the allocations subcommittee of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group kicked off its virtual meeting, some members were distracted by an “elephant in the room.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was in the process of shifting federal guidelines for the next phase of the vaccine rollout. The Trump administration was backing a plan to open up the next round of vaccinations to people 65 or older and people with comorbidities defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

By the end of the hour-long meeting, the state panel adopted similar recommendations, adding the two large new populations to the group’s existing guidelines, which already included residents of congregate settings like prisons and frontline workers. Earlier this month, the advisory panel estimated Phase 1b included more than 800,000 people. One member estimated Tuesday’s addition adds another 720,000 residents to that group.

See the complete article from CT News Junkie online.

FMCSA logo

FMCSA extends CDL, CLP & Med Card Waiver through Feb. 28

Summary by American Trucking Associations (ATA).

This waiver becomes effective on January 1, 2021 and expires on February 28, 2021. Please read the specific provisions below, as the dates and applicability vary.

For CDL/CLP Drivers, the waiver will:

  • Waive until February 28, 2021, the maximum period of CDL validity for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020;
  • Waive until February 28, 2021, the maximum period of CLP validity for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests;
  • Waive until February 28, 2021, the requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test;

Medical Requirements for CDL/CLP and non-CDL drivers:

  • This notice will waive, until February 28, 2021 the requirement that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance that were issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after September 1, 2020.
  • This notice will also waive the requirement that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the SDLA with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate and any required medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020.

For State Driver License Agencies (SDLA):

  • This notice waives, until February 28, 2021 the requirement that the SDLA change the CDL or CLP holder’s medical certification status to “not certified” upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020. Additionally, the notice waives certain requirements with regards to SDLAs downgrading a drivers CDL or CLP upon expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided the SDLAs have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after September 1, 2020.

The full waiver notice can be found here. Carriers and drivers should review this waiver to ensure all terms, conditions, and restrictions are met.