Truck drivers are meeting high demands for emergency operations and the delivery of supplies to support COVID-19. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a three-month waiver modifying existing regulations, which will allow commercial learning permit (CLP) holders to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to help meet the demand of COVID-19 operations. The waiver is effective March 28, 2020, to June 30, 2020, or until the revocation of the President’s declaration of national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), whichever is sooner. By doing so, this will prevent the possibility of a CMV driver shortage and help transport goods and services to meet the needs of the COVID-19 emergency.
What Does the Waiver Do?
The FMCSA is waiving the requirement under 49 CFR 383.25(a)(1) that a CLP holder has to be accompanied by a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder sitting in the front seat of the vehicle while the CLP holder operates the CMV. The waiver now allows a CLP holder to operate a CMV as long as the CDL holder is somewhere else in the cab, and not necessarily sitting in the front seat. According to the FMCSA, it also “waives the restriction under 49 CFR 383.79(a) that limits a State to administering a driving skills test, in accordance with subparts F, G, and H of 49 CFR part 383, to an out of state CDL applicant who has taken driver training in that State. Under the terms, conditions, and restrictions of this waiver, a State may elect to administer a driving skills test to any out of state CDL applicant, regardless of where the applicant received driver training.”
Who Does It Apply To?
With Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices remaining closed across many states during the COVID-19 stay at home restrictions, drivers who are normally able to move onto the next level of driving solo can no longer do so because they can’t obtain their CDL from the DMV. This three-month waiver helps to get much needed drivers on the road to help aid coronavirus efforts despite the inaccessibility of the DMV offices at this time. CLP holders who are operating under this waiver must have passed their CDL driving skills test. They must also carry with them, in the vehicle, evidence from either a State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) or authorized third-party tester that they passed the test, in addition to their non-CDL driver’s license and CLP.
According to the FMCSA, this waiver does not apply to a CLP holder:
- Subject to a driver imminent hazard order under 49 CFR 383.52 or disqualified under 49 CFR 391.11.
- Who does not have a valid medical examiner’s certificate, unless FMCSA’s waiver issued on March 24, 2020 applies and the driver is in compliance with the terms, conditions, and restrictions of the March 24 waiver.
- Who is prohibited from performing safety sensitive functions under 49 CFR 382.501.
The FMCSA also states that:
- This waiver does not apply to CMV operations requiring the following endorsements: T (double/triple trailers); P (passenger), N (tank vehicle), H (hazardous materials), X (combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials), and S (school bus).
- An SDLA that elects to administer a CDL driving skills test to an out of state applicant under this waiver must transmit the test results electronically directly from the testing State to the licensing State in an efficient and secure manner in accordance with 49 CFR 383.79(a)(1).
- Accident Notification. Each motor carrier must notify FMCSA within 5 business days of an accident (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5), involving any CLP holder operating under the terms of this waiver. See 49 CFR 390.15(b) (requiring maintenance of accident registry.) Notification shall be by email to MCPSD@DOT.GOV. The notification must include the following information:
- Date of the accident;
- City or town, and State in which the accident occurred, or closest to the accident scene;
- Driver's name and license number;
- Vehicle number and State license number;
- Number of individuals suffering physical injury;
- Number of fatalities;
- The police-reported cause of the accident (if available at time of the report); and
- Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws, or motor carrier safety regulations.
- FMCSA reserves the right to revoke this waiver for drivers’ involvement in accidents, motor carriers’ failure to report accidents, and drivers’ failure to comply with the restrictions of this waiver.
How Can DISA Help?
During this time of uncertainty, it’s vital that employers get the most recent news and regulation changes to continue operating safely and efficiently. DISA Global Solutions offers professional guidance from industry experts to help you maintain compliance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While the transportation industry continues to change, sometimes on very short notice, our experts will ensure that you stay in the loop and assist you with your transportation compliance needs. Regardless of the DOT agency you report to, we can offer assistance with FAA, FRA, FTA, FMCSA, PHMSA, and USCG and our DOT mandated services include:
- Drug and Alcohol Testing
- Background Checks
- DOT Previous Employer Checks
- Physical Exams/Occupational Health Screening
- Electronic Driver Qualification Management
- Fleet Management and Reporting
- FMCSA Three-Month Waiver
- FMCSA Expanded Emergency Declaration
- DOT Guidelines for Drug and Alcohol Testing During COVID-19 Outbreak
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