From the ATA: Key highlights around the FMCSA’S Emergency Declaration

From the ATA: Key highlights around the FMCSA’S Emergency Declaration
May 11, 2020

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As conditions evolve, the FMCSA is maintaining open discussions on how to respond accordingly while maintaining safety. The FMCSA recently held a Question and Answer conference call to discuss potential next steps around its Emergency Declaration. Read our online article for a few select highlights and access the summary in full.

Note: Motor carriers are responsible for reviewing the FMCSA’s Emergency Declaration and working with Department of Transportation authorities regarding how to comply with federal rules and regulations.

Key highlights

Will the FMCSA extend the HoS emergency declaration beyond May 15?
Undecided at this time. The FMCSA is continuing to deliberate with stakeholders and look across the various sectors to make that determination.

Will the FMCSA consider more discretion or flexibility in the random drug testing rate?
The 50% random rate remains a requirement. The FMCSA also continues to monitor whether it is feasible during the pandemic.

What actions can the FMCSA take to provide regulatory relief and flexibility after the emergency declaration ends?
The FMCSA will keep the lines of communication open, which will allow the it to move quickly. Requests for regulatory relief have to achieve the same or greater level of safety, but the FMCSA will entertain any and all requests as the recovery proceeds.

Are there specific plans to ship masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE) to high-volume rest areas?
There are no specific plans for additional shipments. The FMCSA is consulting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and others to determine the effectiveness of the previous distribution process.

How are you ensuring that face masks and other PPE are distributed to independent operators?
800,000 masks were distributed at rest areas and waystations; hopefully, those made it into the hands of independent operators. The agency continues to evaluate how it can better distribute PPE.

Will the agency grant further non-emergency regulatory relief from ELDs for HoS because of the growing rate of truck-involved traffic fatalities?
No. The FMCSA does not see the HoS exemption being expanded to cover non-emergency relief. The FMCSA notes the preliminary data on projections is especially tenuous because it is based on projections. The FMCSA cautions against drawing simple linear correlations between the ELD mandate and the rate of accidents and fatalities.

Without an extension of HoS, how can trucking companies get the attention of state and federal officials?
The FMCSA is continuing to evaluate the declaration and waivers as more state driver service offices come online. There will likely be some pent-up inventories and bottlenecks in the supply chain. Just because a state DMV is fully operational does not mean the waiver is no longer necessary.

What is the FMCSA doing to address the issue of price gouging?
The agency is having conversations with trucking and brokerage. There is a regulation that addresses some of these issues, and the FMCSA is determining how its authorities tie in. The agency does not have specific complaints filed for price gouging. The FMCSA will figure out its role in these regulatory authorities. As volumes increase, the agency expects rates to continue increasing, hopefully reducing the effect of gouging.

Download the ATA’s full summary for more information. Contact our Safety and Compliance team if you have any questions.

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