President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order No. 13924,85 FR 31353 on May 19th, 2020. This directed federal agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to take action in fighting not just the coronavirus pandemic, but the economic damages resulting from the pandemic as well.
The trucks are essentially the blood cells that fuel the muscles of the American economy, so it is little surprise the FMCSA is suspending or modifying regulations to get as many goods delivered as possible. One such change that you may not have heard about is how those with Commercial Learner’s Permits (CPL) get the training they need to obtain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
Social Distancing in the Cab
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests people stay at least six feet away from one another to minimize the chance of coronavirus transmission. While a CPL is training under the supervision of a CDL holder, it is regulation for the CDL driver to ride shotgun, which tends to be less than six feet away from the other driver. Since March 28th, CDL holders training a CDL do not have to sit alongside the driver, provided the CDL holder is present in the cab any time that the CPL user is driving.
The waiver is now extended to be in effect longer, stretching from June 30th to September 30th. CPL drivers are still required to have passed the CDL skills test and have a standard non-CDL license.
The waiver joins a long list of FMCSA regulation suspensions and modifications, such as specific people being allowed to drive outside of normal hours of service or with an expired CDL. Like all similar regulation suspensions or modifications, this waiver is subject to being removed at a day’s notice, whenever the federal government declares the pandemic to be over.
It is hard to say how many extra trucks will be on the road thanks to this suspension in regulation. As trucking rates climb to pre-pandemic levels, there is an implication that the increase in truckers has not outpaced the demand for deliveries. Whatever the case is, at least this suspension gives students and trainers a little more peace of mind in minimizing the chances of contracting COVID-19.