Transportation workers are key to keeping the country moving at this time of crisis, ensuring hospitals have equipment and supplies and keeping food on supermarket shelves. It’s clear though that transportation companies are working in a completely different environment, even to the one we knew just a week ago. We are in a new normal. Here, we will compile some of the most important announcements for fleet-based operators, to help keep you informed and your business moving.
Relaxation of Hours-of-service
On March 13th, 2020, the FMCSA announced a national emergency declaration providing hours-of-service (HOS) relief to Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers transporting necessary goods during the outbreak of COVID-19. This included food, medical supplies, equipment for sanitization and community safety.
On March 31st, the USDOT took unprecedented further action in response to the outbreak, including the first-ever nationwide HOS emergency declaration. They introduced waivers for expiring commercial driver’s licenses and updated guidance on drug and alcohol testing. The declaration refers to CMV operations providing emergency relief for:
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
- Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
- Immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
- Equipment supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
- Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
- Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.
The declaration also outlines measures for the continuing safety of the nation’s roads: “once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the drive must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers.”
CARES Package Passed by Congress
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been passed by Congress. It provides support by allowing small fleets to take loans up to $10 million. Larger business will be eligible for loans, loan guarantees and investments through Federal Reserve lending programs. These are aimed at propping up the economy as workers are coming to terms with physical distancing and shelter-in-place requirements. The ATA’s Chris Spear says: “Truckers don’t have the option to telework, and they’re not asking for a handout. But they are asking for liquidity and the necessary bridge to keep trucks moving as America recovers from this crisis.”
Canada’s HOS exemption for Covid-19
Canadian officials have announced an exemption to HOS to ensure Covid-19 relief. Director-General of Transport Canada’s Multimodal and Road Safety Program, Michael DeJong said the exemption applies to all provinces and territories and applies to drivers or operators who are transporting essential supplies and equipment.
Free Food and Parking for Drivers
Some truck stops and state associations have started to offer free food, refreshments and parking to truckers who are still on the road during Covid-19. Transport Topics says the Nebraska Trucking Association for one has partnered with several chains to supply drivers with free lunches.
Waiver for Learner Drivers
The FMCSA has this week announced a waiver for learner drivers. This lifts certain restrictions for learner drivers for three months, to ensure they can continue driving in the current crisis. Read the full story in FreightWaves.
The CVSA has postponed its annual Roadcheck inspection. The annual safety blitz was scheduled for May 5-7. It’s hoped it can be rescheduled for later in the year. Currently, it plans to run Operation Safe Driver Week and Brake Safety on their scheduled dates.
We want to highlight just one of the many stories the world is sharing on social media to #ThankATrucker
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Here to Help
Here at ORBCOMM, we want to help. We have created a dedicated Covid-19 Resources page, https://www.orbcomm.com/en/covid19 with customer support information, our visor card and some links to help you stay as up to date as possible.