MassDOT issues waiver regarding vehicle weight and permitting

This exemption, published on April 21 by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), applies to certain motor carriers engaged in operations necessary to respond to the emergency declared by the commonwealth’s governor on March 10.

MassDOT issued this waiver of the regulatory vehicle weight and permitting requirements for certain motor carriers and covered operations on MassDOT roadways, subject to the special conditions listed in the exemption.

A printable PDF version of the exemption is now available.

Webinar: Business strategies to recover from COVID-19 impacts

Tenax Strategies will be offering a valuable webinar on business strategies to help recover from COVID-19 impacts.

New data show COVID-19 impacts on the trucking industry

The following is a press release from the American Transportation Research Institute.

Atlanta, GA – Today, the American Transportation Research Institute is releasing new data that quantifies the continued impacts of COVID-19 business disruptions on the trucking industry.

ATRI’s latest analysis looked at truck activity across six states from February 9 through the most recent week ending April 18, by converting its real-time truck GPS dataset into a truck activity index.

“The GPS data we use is a valuable tool into what is going on in the economy and the trucking industry right now,” said ATRI President and COO Rebecca Brewster. “We knew from talking to drivers and carrier executives that there were significant impacts on operations as a result of COVID-19, but now, by analyzing this data we are able to put numbers and data to feelings and anecdotes.”

From early February into March, the data shows a spike in initial truck activity in the analyzed states – documenting the response to high consumer demand for items such as non-perishable food and paper products, as well as the much-needed emergency medical supplies.

The analysis further documents the impacts of the stay-at-home orders that shut down major segments of the economy, with a resulting decline in April trucking operations.

  • Of the six states analyzed, California had the earliest stay-at-home order issued on March 19. California also experienced the earliest upward spike in truck activity, occurring during the week of March 1. However, truck activity in California is now down 8.3 percent from early February.
  • In Florida, Illinois and New York, truck activity spiked the week of March 8 but is now down on average by over 10 percent from February 9.
  • In Pennsylvania and Washington, truck activity spiked during the week of March 15, but is now down by an average of nearly nine percent from February 9.

There are initial signs of a return to normal, however. In New York, one of the earliest states to experience high numbers of cases, truck activity started a positive uptick during the week of April 12.

“In these unprecedented times, we need to rely on science and facts, not anecdotes and speculation. This ATRI research is able to tell us in near-real-time what the pandemic is really doing to the trucking industry,” said American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello.

MassDOT notes increase in truck accidents

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reached out to TAM asking us to remind drivers to continue a “Safety First” approach while traveling the roads in the commonwealth.

MassDOT noted an increase in the number of significant truck crashes even with the major drop in traffic volume during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, they are seeing an increase in rollover crashes near on and off-ramps. Vehicles carrying food and supplies make up most of the incidents.

As we all know, safety is beyond critical in our industry. Please take this opportunity to remind drivers to slow down and follow the posted speed limit warning signs on the ramps. This may be the first time drivers are taking off-ramps at speeds more than a crawl, and many drivers are new to the area and not familiar with our roads.

Remember, Safety First!

Trump delivers remarks celebrating America’s truckers

Yesterday, President Trump recognized and showed appreciation for the nation’s truckers and the trucking industry. American Trucking Association leaders and professional drivers met with the president and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on the White House lawn.

In part, Trump noted, “Truckers are playing a critical role in vanquishing the virus, and they will be just as important as we work to get our economic engine roaring.”

The president’s remarks, including statements from professional drivers, is captured in the video below.

Massachusetts RMV implements further credential extensions

The Massachusetts RMV has implemented further extensions for expiring motor vehicle inspection stickers, passenger plate registrations, professional credentials, and licenses and permits, including Commercial Driver’s Licenses and Permits (CDLs / CLPs).

While 60-day extensions had already been implemented for most credentials, passenger plate registrations, and inspection stickers expired or expiring in March and April, this new action will apply the same 60-day extension to those expiring in May. Additionally, credentials expiring in March 2020 that previously were extended by 60 days will have an additional 60-day extension applied.

The following new changes are associated with commercial activities. Details on all of the extensions are available on the RMV’s COVID-19 information page.

  • All commercial and non-commercial driver’s licenses, ID cards, and Learner’s Permits that expire in May 2020 will now expire in July 2020 and do not need to be renewed at this time. Customers holding a license marked “Limited-Term” that has expired or will expire between March 1 and May 31, 2020 should visit Mass.Gov/RMV for more information and to check the validity of their credential.
  • The RMV also recently introduced an online renewal option for CDL holders if they are self-certified in the Non-Excepted Interstate (NI) category for medical certification.
  • In accordance with updated guidance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all CDL Medical Certificates expiring between March 1 and April 30, 2020 will not expire until June 30, 2020 and do not need to be renewed at this time. Extensions to CDL Medical Certificates are intended to prevent license downgrades and elective medical visits, as well as alleviate demand on medical providers, during the State of Emergency.
  • Professional credentials for School Bus Certificates, School Pupil Transport Licenses (7D), Inspector Licenses, Inspection Station Licenses, Driving Instructor Licenses and Driving School Licenses that expire in May 2020 will be extended for 90 days after the State of Emergency is lifted and do not need to be renewed at this time.

Trucking industry leaders named to White House economic revival group

Press release from the American Trucking Association, April 15. Administration Calls on Industry Leaders to Chart Path Forward.

Arlington, Virginia – American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear is among the selection of transportation leaders named by President Trump to the administration’s Great American Economic Revival initiative, which is convening bipartisan groups of industry leaders from across all sectors of the U.S. economy. These groups will work with the White House to chart the path forward for the economy as it rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am honored to serve our President and the nation in this capacity, representing the trucking industry and joining four ATA member company CEO’s, to bridge this crisis to a safe, speedy and full recovery,” said Spear. “Just as they have during the mitigation and response efforts, truckers will be at the forefront as we revive our economy’s engine and get our country moving again. No industry will be more vital, and we embrace the opportunity to play a leading role in this national effort.”

The following trucking CEOs were also named to the administration’s transportation group:

  • Fred Smith, FedEx
  • David Abney, UPS
  • John Roberts III, J.B. Hunt
  • Darren Hawkins, YRC Worldwide

Trucking is the central link in the United States’ supply chain, moving more than 70 percent of the nation’s freight tonnage. More than 80% of U.S. communities depend solely on trucking for delivery of their goods and commodities. In 2018, the trucking industry hauled 11.49 billion tons of the nation’s goods.

Throughout the mitigation and response phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, truckers continue to serve on the frontlines, delivering food, PPE, medicine and other essential supplies to meet the needs of medical professionals, first responders and the American people.

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FMCSA extends, expands emergency declaration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued notice it is extending Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 issued March 13, and expanded on March 26.

The declaration continues the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for the fifty States and the District of Columbia.

This declaration extends the exemption through May 15, 2020, and further expands the relief expressly to cover liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems.

The declaration – dated April 8 – is available as a downloadable PDF.

FAQs – Paycheck Protection Program loans

As a follow-up to our April 7 teleconference, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has provided a list of frequently asked questions concerning Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The information is current as of April 8.

The SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, intends to provide timely additional guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning the implementation of the PPP, established by section 1102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

TAM will monitor for release of related documents and additional information, and will continue to provide updates.

OSHA Posters & Info: COVID-19 guidance for the workplace

For employers, particularly those providing essential services, the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has issued a new poster listing steps all workplaces can take to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

The poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures every employer can implement to protect workers’ safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic. Safety measures include encouraging sick workers to stay home; establishing flexible worksites and staggered work shifts; discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks and other work equipment; and using Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals with label claims against the coronavirus.

Copies of this and other new OSHA documents can be found on the OSHA website.