On 11/12/21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit threw out portions of the 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2 (“Phase 2”) as it relates to trailers, tanks, car carriers, logging trailers, and platforms. The Rule, which was set to take effect 1/1/21, but was stayed pending the outcome of litigation, would have required trailer manufacturers to adopt fuel-saving technology such as side-skirts and tire-pressure warning systems. The Court held that the trailers are not engines, do not utilize fuel and, therefore, are not motor vehicles and are not governed by rules of fuel economy.
On 11/4/21, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told Philadelphia television station WPVI that truck drivers driving alone in their cabs are exempt from the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. On 11/12/21, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) petitioned OSHA to extend the exemption to team drivers, who would otherwise be subject to weekly testing at the drivers’ expense. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that the mandate would impact over 700,000 transportation employees. The mandate is currently stayed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On 10/7/21, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule requiring state driver’s license agencies to access and use the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and initiate proceedings to downgrade a driver’s commercial license privileges within 60 days after notification of a drug or alcohol test failure. The FMCSA clarified that state agencies have until 11/18/2024 to comply with the rule, which provides time for agencies to ensure processes are in place to notify drivers of the licensure downgrade and provide sufficient periods for due process under state law.
On 11/3/21, the FMCSA published a bulletin warning drivers that with carriers upgrading to 5G networks, older 3G cellular network gaps may result in faulty hours of service (HOS) logs. The FMCSA encouraged drivers and carriers to investigate their electronic logging device (ELD) to ensure that it will continue to operate once the aging 3G infrastructure sunsets.
On 4/30/21, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB19 that, among other things, allows authentication of motor carrier dash camera footage of an accident and bifurcation of trial to only allow a carrier’s unsafe safety practices during the second phase of the trial, after a jury determined who was at fault for the accident. The Texas Senate passed the bill on 5/19/21 with an amendment that would extend the time for carriers to keep records of driver employment, drug and alcohol testing, and the employer’s duty to investigate an employment application. The amended bill was passed on 5/28/21, signed by Governor Abbott on 6/16/21 and took effect 9/1/21.
On 4/28/21, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay of California Assembly Bill 5, holding that the California law was not preempted by federal regulations. The controversial provision codifies a three-pronged “ABC test” that requires carriers to classify workers as employees unless the employer shows that the workers are (1) free from the control of the hiring entity; (2) the worker performs work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and (3) the workers are customarily engaged in an independent trade or occupation.
On 3/26/2021, H.R. 2187, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, was introduced by Representatives Mike Bost (R – Ill.) and Angie Craig (D – Minn.) in the House of Representatives. The bill dedicates federal funding to state facilities that provide parking to commercial motor vehicles. Beginning in 2022, the bill authorizes $125 million, which is increased annually through 2026. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit with no further action taken during the 117th Congress.
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.