The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has reduced hours-of-service (HOS) violations by 50% since the initial rule took effect in December 2017. Over 8.8 million roadside inspections were conducted since that time with less than 1.25% resulting in citations for HOS violations or for failure to comply with the ELD mandate. The FMCSA claims it is too early to determine whether the ELD mandate, which took full effect in December 2019, has resulted in safer highways. Initial estimates expected avoidance of over 1,800 crashes and 26 lives saved each year. Reduced motorcoach travel and lighter traffic in 2020 due to COVID have limited the opportunity to gauge the mandate’s effectiveness.

The FMCSA reported 46,000 drug-related violations in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse during the first 10 months of operation since January 2020. The majority of failing tests, over 24,000, were for marijuana use. Other high failure rates were for cocaine (6,650) and amphetamines (4,280). Of the total reported violations, only 8,000 have completed return-to-duty protocols, leaving 38,000 driver positions open. The Clearinghouse currently has registered over 1.3 million drivers and 153,000 employers. Employers are required to query the clearinghouse prior to employing a commercial driver and once a year thereafter.

On 1/4/21, the FMCSA published a proposed change to regulatory guidance clarifying how drivers record time moving material around private property (a “yard”). The guidance clarifies the definition of a “yard move” as driving while moving material within an intermodal yard or port facility, a motor carrier’s place of business, a shipper’s private parking lot, or moving short distances on public roads between private properties while
traffic control or flaggers are utilized. Public comment on the guidance is due by 2/3/21. Currently, the HOS rules do not define “yard move.” The ELD final rule similarly fails to define a “yard move” but requires drivers to enter duty status as “on duty, not driving.” The FMCSA intends the new guidance to assist drivers in properly categorizing hours of service and avoid reducing drive time with simple “yard moves”.

On 12/17/20, the FMCSA published a final rule permitting third-party commercial driver’s license (CDL) instructors to also administer the skills test. Previously, regulations prohibited instructors from teaching the course and administering the skills tests. The FMCSA expects the new rule to give states flexibility on training and testing CDL applicants and alleviate delays and inefficiency in the application process. The new rule becomes effective in February 2021.

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Allen Smith
Charlotte, NC
(704) 319-5449

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Austin Walsh
Charlotte, NC
(704) 602-8010

This publication is not intended to be all-encompassing and does not cover all situations and exceptions to general rules. To discuss the applicability or interpretation of any provision of the law to a specific situation, please contact an attorney at Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP.