What did you miss? 2020 year in review

By: Daren Hansen

Publication: Transportation Regulatory Alert

Date Posted: 12/16/2020

2020 Year in Review for Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

In terms of new safety regulations, 2020 was another quiet year interspersed with a few significant changes — including those spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a recap of the biggest news of 2020 related to motor carrier safety regulation:


What happened?

What does it mean?

Jan. 6

The new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse was launched.

Motor carriers must query the database for all new drivers and annually for all existing CDL drivers, and must ensure that violations are reported to the Clearinghouse.

Jan. 15

FMCSA launched a new Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study.

When complete in roughly two years, the study should shed light on ways to prevent truck and bus crashes.

Feb. 4

The compliance deadline for new entry-level driver training rules was pushed back two years to February 7, 2022.

Motor carriers need to continue complying with the new-driver training rules in Part 380 for at least another year. The 2022 rules will require drivers to obtain training as a prerequisite to getting a new CDL or endorsement.

Feb. 28

FMCSA launched a study of the problem of harassment and assaults against minority and female truckers.

The study, scheduled for completion this year, could lead to recommendations for preventing driver harassment and assaults.

March 13

FMCSA began issuing a series of waivers and exemptions for drivers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these were eventually extended through the end of 2020.

A list of current FMCSA exemptions and waivers is available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19.

March 23

TSA issued a final rule requiring security training for motorcoach drivers operating on fixed routes into or out of 10 major metro areas.

Though the rolling compliance deadlines have been delayed (training programs are now due by March 22, 2021), affected bus companies will still need to comply with the new rules in 49 CFR Part 1570.

April 1

Drivers found with violations in the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse began being placed out of service.

Motor carriers may never use a driver who is listed in the Clearinghouse as being “prohibited” from driving.

April 28

FMCSA issued a proposed rule to require states to downgrade CDL drivers’ licenses whenever a drug or alcohol violation is added to the Clearinghouse.

The FMCSA could issue the final rule at any time, though implementation by the states will take time.

May 6

FMCSA launched an enhanced Crash Preventability Determination Program.

Motor carriers and drivers can use DataQs to challenge the preventability of 10 types of reportable crashes.

May 19

Due to the pandemic, FMCSA began conducting off-site compliance reviews.

Motor carriers are being audited from a remote location and asked to upload compliance documents via an online portal. They can even receive a safety rating without ever seeing the auditor.

June 1

Four key provisions in the hours-of-service rules were revised, adding needed flexibility for truck and bus drivers.

As of Sept. 29, 2020, drivers can take advantage of new flexibility related to 30-minute breaks, short-haul operations, sleeper-berth usage, and adverse conditions.

Aug. 17

A new version of the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) was approved for use.

The new form must be used for all drug tests starting no later than August 30, 2021.

Aug. 17

FMCSA removed the requirement that bus drivers complete no-defect DVIRs.

Bus drivers are now exempt from needing to complete post-trip inspection reports when there are no defects to report.

Sept. 3

FMCSA launched a pilot program to study whether drivers should be allowed to pause the 14-hour clock with rest breaks of up to 3 hours.

If the study is a success, the FMCSA may change its rules to allow all truck drivers to pause the 14-hour clock.

Sept. 10

The Department of Health proposed new guidelines for hair testing.

If finalized, the DOT and FMCSA will need to amend their drug testing rules to allow hair testing in place of urine.

Sept. 25

FMCSA updated the list of violations tracked in its CSA program.

Most changes involved an expansion of existing violations and were insignificant. In all, 63 new violations were added, 4 were removed, the 34 received new descriptions.

Oct. 8

FMCSA issued an exemption allowing pulsating brake lights on tanker trucks to help prevent rear-end crashes.

The five-year exemption allows motor carriers to install pulsating red or amber brake lights on tankers.

Nov. 24

FMCSA issued a new rule clarifying the definition of agricultural commodity, effective December 9.

New definitions in §395.2 expand the number of carriers eligible for two agriculture-related hours-of-service exceptions.

About the author
Daren Hansen - Transportation Safety Editor

Based on his expertise in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Daren is responsible for writing and editing content for safety-related products, publications, and services for the trucking industry,

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