Act now to address medical certifications expired during COVID-19

As a result of COVID-19, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a nationwide emergency declaration which waived parts of the federal motor carrier safety regulations, such as Hours of Service, if the operation was in direct response to the pandemic.

One of the things FMCSA also did (in conjunction with state driver’s license agencies) through this emergency declaration was decide to not penalize CDL holders who had their medical card expire during the pandemic. This only applied if drivers had a valid medical certification as of February 29, 2020, and it expired on or after March 1, 2020. See an announcement from FMCSA on medical cards here.

MTAC members should be aware that when the emergency declaration expires on June 30, the flexibility regarding expired medical cards will end. Accordingly, effective July 1, 2020, all CDL drivers must have a valid, up-to-date medical card! Do not wait, schedule appointments with Certified Medical Examiners now.

Members can use this FMCSA website to search for Certified Medical Examiners in Connecticut who are qualified to perform the physical examinations.

Additionally, once the driver has obtained medical certification, the medical cards (short form) must be submitted to Connecticut DMV using this website.

PPP forgiveness guidance issued as Congress mulls changes

From Journal of Accountancy.

Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guidance Friday night that provided some clarity on several loan forgiveness questions but didn’t address the two parts of PPP that arguably have generated the most concerns among the millions of small businesses and other entities that have received funding.

Two new interim final rules issued late Friday build upon the loan forgiveness application and instructions released May 15 but they don’t make changes to either the eight-week period during which PPP funds must be spent to qualify for forgiveness or the rule requiring PPP borrowers to spend at least 75% of the funds on payroll costs to qualify for full loan forgiveness.

Those two issues are the focus of multiple bills being considered in Congress.

See the complete article from Journal of Accountancy online.

House, Senate lawmakers propose essential workers fund

From Transport Topics.

Legislation that would compensate essential workers who became ill or died from COVID-19 while performing their services was recently introduced by Senate Democrats.

The Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act would establish a fund for those who qualify, such as certain individuals who were required to provide products or services deemed essential during the pandemic.

A summary detailing the bill’s provisions indicated that funds would be appropriated for five years, as needed, to assist with medical costs, loss of employment or business, and burial costs.

Also a website would be set up to facilitate with the application process.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Free food for truck drivers on Friday in Wallingford

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) and one of their members will host a fourth event in which a member company will buy meals for commercial truck drivers from food truck operators at a Connecticut highway rest area.

Coastal Carriers of Connecticut will buy meals for truck drivers on Friday, May 29 from Chris and Roy’s food truck at the Wallingford rest area on I-91 Southbound from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other food trucks which may be present at the rest area will be eligible to participate in this event as well. Drivers from MTAC member companies who may be in the area during their work day are encouraged to stop by for a meal during this event.

John Pruchnicki, who is a member of MTAC’s Board of Directors, and a past Chairman of the Board, is a co-owner of Coastal Carriers of Connecticut.

“I appreciate Coastal Carriers volunteering to host another food truck event where they will buy meals for commercial truck drivers,” said MTAC President Joe Sculley. “They, like our previous food truck event sponsors, want to show appreciation for truck drivers who have been working on the front lines in direct response to the pandemic.”

This Friday’s food truck event in Wallingford will follow other successful food truck events held by MTAC and their members. Whelen Engineering sponsored an event on May 6 in North Stonington; Berkshire Energy Depot sponsored an event on May 15 in Wallingford; Nutmeg International Trucks and Allegiance Truck Group sponsored an event on May 20 in Southington.

NCCI new class code for furloughed employees

From MTAC partner Bouvier Insurance.

As a result of COVID-19, many businesses have been forced to furlough employees. In some cases, businesses are continuing to pay furloughed employees despite the fact that they are not performing any work duties. The rating bureau for Workers Compensation Insurance, NCCI, has filed a rule change to report payroll differently.

If your insurance carrier has implemented this ruling, payments for paid furloughed employees will be excluded from premium calculations at the time of audit. If your carrier is implementing this ruling, in order to take advantage of this benefit, follow the steps below:

  • It is imperative you keep separate, accurate and verifiable records
  • Track the amount of payroll for paid furloughed employees separately
  • Report payroll for paid furloughed employees under classification 0012

Very important: If paid furlough employee payroll is not tracked and reported separately, these payments will be assigned to the classification code for the work normally performed by the employee.

To see if your carrier is applying this ruling or if you have any questions, please contact us for further review. We are here to help.

Click here to see the filing from NCCI.

Note from MTAC: Bouvier has stated that they are happy to discuss this information with any MTAC members who have questions, even if they are not currently a member of the MTAC/Bouvier/Acadia safety group program. For questions, contact Lindsey Irvin, VP of National Accounts for Bouvier at (860) 232-4491 Ext 148.

Connecticut DMV adds time to length of credentials extension

The Connecticut DMV has announced that eligible credentials which expired between March 10 and June 30, 2020 are now extended for 180 days from the date of expiration. Prior to this announcement, there was only a 90 day extension for such credentials.

  • The extension includes all Connecticut driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, identity cards, emissions testing and registrations. The extension is effective immediately. See the complete list here.
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles – acting on the recent Declaration signed by Governor Ned Lamont – now offers an extension period to Connecticut residents with expiring credentials.
  • Eligible DMV credentials that expire between March 10, 2020 and June 30, 2020 are automatically covered by this extension. No late fees will be assessed for eligible credentials.

The extension is intended to help safeguard the general public by providing customers with renewal options.

Please review more information on extensions and other DMV actions online.

FMCSA publishes final HOS Rule, granting flexibility to drivers

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published its long-awaited final rule on changes to hours-of-service regulations in a move intended to increase flexibility for truck drivers.

The final rule, announced by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen on May 14, includes four revisions that pertain to issues truckers have voiced concerns about, such as the 30-minute rest break and splitting up time in the sleeper berth.

The final rule is effective 120 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

Specifically, the final rule will allow more flexibility for the 30-minute rest break rule by requiring a break after eight hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using “on-duty, not driving” status, rather than “off-duty” status.

The rule also will modify the split sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to divide their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 split or a 7/3 split. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.

Additionally, the rule modifies the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

April tonnage down 11.3% year-over-year

From Transport Topics.

April truck tonnage declined 11.3% compared with year-ago levels, the steepest year-over-year decline since 2009, American Trucking Associations reported.

ATA on May 19 announced that its monthly, seasonally adjusted For-Hire-Truck Tonnage registered 104.9 in April, down from 118.4 a year ago. On a sequential basis, April was down 12.2% from March, when the index registered 119.5 (in calculating the index, 100 represents 2015 levels).

“April’s monthly decline was the largest in 26 years when there was a labor strike in April 1994,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement. “Considering that April factory output and retail sales plummeted, the large drop in truck freight is not surprising.”

Free Food For Truck Drivers on Wednesday at Southington Rest Area

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) and their members will host a third event in which they will buy meals for commercial truck drivers from food truck operators at a Connecticut highway rest area, the association announced today.

MTAC President Joe Sculley said that Nutmeg International Trucks and Allegiance Truck Group will buy meals for truck drivers on Wednesday, May 20 from Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburgers and Deb’s Café at the Southington rest area on I-84 Eastbound from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Nutmeg International and Allegiance are happy to support this effort to show appreciation for our country’s commercial truck drivers,” said Alan Baumert of Nutmeg International.

Mr. Baumert is a long-time member of MTAC’s Board of Directors.

“I appreciate Nutmeg International and Allegiance Truck Group providing valuable funds so that we can continue to support the truck drivers who have been working on the front lines responding to this pandemic,” said MTAC President Joe Sculley. “These drivers can’t work from home, but rather, they have been working overtime transporting anything and everything, from food, to hospital equipment, to medicine,” he added.

Sculley added that many commercial truck drivers have had, and continue to have, trouble finding meals while out on the road during the ongoing pandemic. Thus, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) acted to allow food trucks to operate at highway rest areas in order to provide more meal options for drivers.

This food truck event on May 20 will follow other successful food truck events held by MTAC, which were at the I-95 rest area in North Stonington (sponsored by Whelen Engineering) on May 6, and at the Wallingford rest area (sponsored by Berkshire Energy Depot) on I-91 on May 15.

FMCSA publishes final rule on Hours of Service

From FMCSA.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule updating hours of service (HOS) rules to increase safety on America’s roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

Based on the detailed public comments and input from the American people, FMCSA’s final rule on hours of service offers four key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

  • The Agency will increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
  • The Agency will modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split—with neither period counting against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • The Agency will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • The Agency will change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

FMCSA’s final rule is crafted to improve safety on the nation’s roadways. The rule changes do not increase driving time and will continue to prevent CMV operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute break.

See the complete press release from USDOT online.

The Hours of Service final rule can be seen online.