COVID-19 Bulletin: May 14

FMCSA announces updated Hours of Service Regulations

Today the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule updating its Hours of Service Regulations.

FMCSA’s final rule on hours of service offers four key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

  • The Agency will increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
  • The Agency will modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split—with neither period counting against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • The Agency will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • The Agency will change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

The new hours of service rule will have an implementation date of 120 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Federal Register notice is expected in the coming week. For full details of the FMCSA announcement, the regulations and background please click here.

Canadian Trucking Alliance staff will be conducting a review of the new FMCSA hours of service regime in the coming days and providing a comparison document with the Canadian Hours of Service to be available to the CTA membership.

OTA Confirms Trucking Is Eligible for The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides financial contributions (interest-free loans) to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs (located in southern Ontario with 1 to 499 full-time equivalent employees), where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fund, valued at more than $962 million nationally, is delivered by Canada’s six regional development agencies in the various provinces.

In southern Ontario, $252.4 million is available as follows:

  • $213 million for SMEs facing financial pressure; and
  • $39.4 million to provide rural businesses with access to capital and business support, delivered by southern Ontario’s Community Futures Development Corporations.

The RRRF seeks to provide support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been rejected from, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures, or are experiencing ongoing funding needs despite having accessed other funding measures.

While the program details signal that priority may be given to companies in the manufacturing, technology, and tourism sectors, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has confirmed that the trucking industry is still eligible for this program.

If you have further questions about this program, carriers can also call the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario at — 1-866-593-5505 – to discuss your eligibility for this program. If you are located in Norther Ontario, be sure to ask about opportunities under FedNor which is the Government of Canada’s economic development organization for Northern Ontario.

Coping with Covid-19 Webinar Offers Insights on how Logistics Sector Reacting to Pandemic

Trucking HR Canada will host a Covid-19 webinar, with guest speaker David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.  The webinar will highlight data and insights from his work exploring how Canadians are reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic, including special, original Trucking HR Canada research assessing how Canadians view the trucking and logistics sector in the context of the pandemic.

Abacus Data has conducted seven national surveys since mid-March (interviewing more than 16,000) that explored how Canadians are coping and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with a particular focus on the likely impacts on consumer behaviour, whether Canadians will re-enter the economy when it re-opens, and how Canadians are evaluating their governments.

“As one of the leading research firms in Canada, Abacus Data offers evidence-based insights on the perceptions of Canadians”, says Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada.  “The data and insights David Coletto will share are particularly important as we work to prepare for the next stage of our pandemic response, including specific research into how Canadians view our industry”.

The free webinar will take place Wednesday, May 20 at Noon (12pm) Eastern. 

FMCSA Extends COVID-19 Emergency Declaration for Trucking

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has expanded through June 14 its emergency declaration relaxing hours-of-service and some other rules for drivers transporting “relief” loads for COVID-19.

The new emergency declaration explains that a national emergency continues to exist that warrants extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, which was issued on March 13expanded on March 18, and extended and further expanded on April 8.

The April 8 extension was due to expire on May 15; this new extension continues the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) through June 14, or until the revocation of the presidentially declared COVID-19 national emergency.

Motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 national emergency are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs. The notice explains that direct assistance means transportation and other relief services “incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies (such as food and fuel) related to COVID-19 during the emergency.”

That includes transportation to meet immediate needs 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 items in the first three categories above;
  • fuel;
  • liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems;
  • equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19.

The agency notes that direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

In addition to the details contained in the updated declaration carriers are encouraged to review additional applicability conditions at the following FMCSA FAQ page:

Heavy Duty Trucking conducted a report in late March/early April indicated that many fleets were not taking advantage of the emergency declaration. Only a small number of survey respondents said they were using it extensively – 5%. About a quarter, 27%, were using it on a limited basis, while another quarter were not using it at all; 42% said it was not applicable to their business.

When asked why they were not taking advantage of the relief, many explained that they didn’t really need it.  Many cited safety, enforcement, and liability reasons. Others said they didn’t want to over-work drivers.

P.E.I. relaxes self-isolation rules for truckers

Prince Edward Island has relaxed self-isolation rules for truck drivers, the province announced Monday. It said truckers are no longer required to self-isolate if they agree to undergo regular tests, and the tests remain negative.

“Truck drivers traveling off Island within Canada and the U.S. can be tested weekly for Covid-19. If the test is negative, you no longer have to self-isolate when at home,” it said in a statement.

“However, please monitor for symptoms of Covid-19, and if symptoms should occur self-isolate and call 811 for testing,” it added.

The move came amid a furor over a hefty fine against a truck driver, who had left his apartment to get some groceries.

But the province insisted that the relaxation had nothing to do with the incident, saying it had been in the works for some time now.

The PEI Trucking Sector Council agreed. It said the change was not the result of a driver being fined.

“We had been working on this long before he was fined,” the council said.

Full Story from Truck News here.

COVID-19 Ripens Conditions for Cyberattacks on Trucking

As cybercriminals play on the fears prompted by COVID-19, the commercial trucking industry should brace for an uptick in cyber breaches and possible ransomware attacks.

Reports of truck fleets being hit by ransomware attacks and other cyber breaches aren’t exactly news. However, as hackers play on the distractions and fears prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, trucking industry experts expect to see a surge in cyberattacks against commercial carriers.

In a blog titled “Cybercrime: Why Trucking Is A Ripe Target,” Mark Murrell, co-owner of online truck driver training provider CarriersEdge, explored the reasons why the trucking industry is an optimal target for hackers.

For one, trucking is a high dollar business, explained Murrell. “That means companies have relatively large amounts of cash or credit available, and they’re used to paying pretty big bills. If you successfully execute a ransomware attack, you can extract a higher payment than you’d get targeting small and midsize companies in other, lower dollar industries,” he wrote.

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