Coronavirus & the Trucking Industry:
Weekly Updates

Governor Reynolds Extends Emergency Declaration
Posted August 22, 2020
 
Governor Reynolds has signed an extension to the Emergency Declaration that will expire at 11:59 PM on September 20, 2020.
 
The declaration temporarily suspends the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code 321.463 (6) (a) and (b) and 321E.29, which deal with oversize and overweight loads. The declaration allows for the continued allowance of up to 90,000 pounds and 20,000 pounds per axle for specific commodities.
 
The commodities included in the weight allowance include: vaccines, antivirals, prescription drugs, protective equipment, other necessary medical assets food, medical supplies, cleaning products, other household goods, agricultural supplies and commodities (including, but not limited to livestock, raw milk, and crop supplies), agricultural waste (including, but not limited to animal carcasses), or any other goods and supplies necessary to respond to this public health disaster and its economic effect and require a permit to transport such loads.
 
This increased weight allowance is not allowed on Interstate highways.
 
Please call the IMTA office with any questions you may have at (515) 244-5193.
 
Click here to read the full proclamation.

 
FMCSA Revises, Extends Emergency Declaration Through September 14
Posted August 12, 2020
 
FMCSA has revised and extended the duration of the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration until September 14, 2020. The new declaration now includes a category for food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.The announcement can be found here.  
 
The extended and expanded emergency declaration continues to provide regulatory relief only to commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of:
  • Livestock and livestock feed;
  • 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; and
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
IMTA encourages drivers and motor carriers to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the exemption posted to the FMCSA’s website. 
 
Please call the IMTA office with any questions you may have at (515) 244-5193.

 
Extension of TSA Hazardous Materials Endorsements
Posted July 27, 2020
 
TSA has approved an extension of the Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) Exemption that allowed States to issue an extension of up to 180 days for HMEs expiring between March 1, 2020 – July 31, 2020. The 90-day extension makes the new exemption period for HMEs that would otherwise expire between March 1, 2020 – October 29, 2020.  
 
Q: Why is TSA granting this exemption?
A: TSA determined it is in the public interest to grant an exemption from certain process requirements in 49 CFR part 1572 related to STA HMEs, given the need for commercial drivers with an HME to continue to work without interruption during the current National Emergency created by the COVID-19 virus.
 
Q: Has the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provided guidance for States, CDL Holders and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles?
A: Yes. On March 24, 2020, DoT FMSCA granted a waiver from certain regulations applicable to commercial driver’s license and learner’s permit holders. DoT’s waiver extended the maximum period of CDL validity and waived knowledge or skills test as well as certain medical examination and certifications for drivers. For more information, please visit: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov. 
 
Q: Do Drivers need to take any action(s) to extend their Security Threat Assessment?
A: Drivers should refer to their State driver’s license entity for more information or questions regarding their CDL validity. A State may grant an HME extension of up to 180 days to an individual who had a current, valid HME STA as of March 1, 2020. Also, a State must notify each individual holding an HME that expired on or after March 1, 2020, that the State is extending the expiration date of the HME. Notification may be via a State website in some instances determined by different circumstances in each State.  
 
 Q: Does this exemption compromise national or transportation security?
A: The risk to transportation security associated with this Exemption is low. TSA maintains the ability to recurrently vet HME holders and take action to revoke a HME if derogatory information becomes available, regardless of the expiration date.
 
Q: Where can I find more information on TSA’s temporary exemption?
A: The exemption will be posted to the Federal Register in coming days. For additional information, states may contact the TSA Hazardous Materials Threat Assessment Program at: HME.Question@tsa.dhs.gov.

 
Trucking Industry Seeks Federal Excise Tax (FET) Relief During Economic Recovery
Posted May 11, 2020
 
More than 100 trucking industry trade groups, including the Iowa Motor Truck Association, have signed on to a letter to the leadership of the US House and Senate asking Congress to suspend the 12% federal excise tax on new heavy-duty trucks and trailers through 2021 in the next coronavirus economic recovery legislation.
 
Truck sales in the US are predicted to decline by 50% this year due to the pandemic. And, as a result of government-ordered closures, truck and trailer manufacturing plants and dealers have either suspended or scaled back operations.
 
To jump start the economy after the pandemic, a suspension of the burdensome FET, which increases the cost of new heavy-duty trucks and trailers by $22,000 on average, would immediately spark the purchase of heavy-duty trucks and trailers. In turn, this would help save or bring back the livelihoods of the 7.8 million Americans employed in jobs related to trucking.
 
In addition to saving jobs, a suspension of the FET would spur sales of today’s cleaner and safer heavy-duty trucks and trailers by making them more affordable during this difficult economic time. Suspension of the tax would also encourage the sale of newer trucks, which have the latest safety technologies that help reduce roadway crashes and related injuries and fatalities. 

 
Joint Research Confirms COVID-19 Impact on Trucking
Posted May 7, 2020
 
ATRI --- The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association Foundation has released important research on impacts that the Covid pandemic is having on all aspects of trucking operations, including deliveries, travel times, detention and truck parking. Most importantly, the research provides recommendations and guidance on future strategies should another national disaster strike.
 
Key findings include:
  • Long-haul trips are down considerably as container imports at ports dried up. At the same time, local trips under 100 miles increased by more than 100 percent.
  • While certain segments of the industry, such as medical devices, perishable foods and paper products, saw solid Covid-related increases in truck traffic – nearly 50 percent of respondents described freight levels as “somewhat” to “much” lower due to Covid. 
  • Nearly 70 percent of specialized and tank truck operations were negatively impacted. In nearly every instance, smaller fleets reported greater negative impacts than larger fleets.
  • More than 40 percent of respondents said that truck parking was not any worse due to the Covid pandemic, but by fleet size, the larger fleets did describe truck parking as more difficult to find during the pandemic.
  • The research confirmed that driver detention generally did not change due to Covid; however, owner-operators and small fleets experienced much worse detention delays relative to larger fleets.
  • In terms of disaster planning, almost 80 percent of owner-operators and small fleets do not have any plan in place for managing operations during natural disasters.
  • The trucking industry generally has a favorable attitude towards state and federal responses, policies and programs set up to address the pandemic, with the federal response viewed as more favorable than the state responses.
  • The trucking industry’s perceptions about the country’s economic situation over the next several months leans slightly pessimistic – both in terms of freight movement and consumer spending.
You can download the full report by clicking here.

 
Statewide COVID-19 Testing Initiative
Posted April 27, 2020
 
TestIowa is a new initiative in partnership with our state leaders and private corporations. The goal is to dramatically increase the rate of COVID-19 testing so Iowans can have better access to testing and help stem the spread of COVID-19 to get us back to normal as quickly as possible.
 
How do you get tested?
Drive-through test locations can accommodate up to 3,000 tests per day. Get started TODAY with three simple steps:
  1. Assess --- Answer a few questions to determine your current risk and provide the Iowa Department of Public Health and government leaders insight into our collective health. You’ll also receive accurate, evidence-based information on COVID-19.
  2. Test --- We can’t test everyone, but we’ll prioritize testing for those who currently have symptoms, have interacted with someone who has already tested positive, or have recently visited places where COVID-19 is more widespread. We’ll confirm a time slot for your test and direct you to a drive-through testing location.
  3. Track --- If you’ve tested positive, we’ll ask you to answer some questions to help isolate the infection rate; for example, who you might have been in contact with and where you have traveled recently.
It is important that every person in your household & company fill out their own assessment. Thank you for doing your part in helping Iowa unite against the spread of COVID-19. This assessment is provided by the State of Iowa.
 
Click here to take the assessment if you haven't already!

 
New Permit for Hauling Overweight Divisible Loads for Emergencies
Posted April 10, 2020
 
The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) has recently made enhancements to the permitting process that should make it easier and faster for carriers to obtain permits to haul heavy on the interstate during the COVID-19 emergency.
 
IDOT has created a new permit in their online system called "Emergency Interstate Permit" and it can be found in the new section on their application page called "Emergency Permits".
 
This new permit has the fee already set to $0 and will auto issue through the system 24/7. Additionally, the permit is non-routed and is good for the duration of the proclamation. This means that rather than needing a permit for each trip and contacting DOT to waive fees, carriers can now get one permit per truck for the length of the proclamation.
 
The weight limits on the permit match those found in the Governor’s proclamation for state roads which will make it easier to seamlessly transport essential goods throughout the state regardless of which road is traveled. 
 
Click here to view the IDOT permit website.

 
Paid Leave Entitlement
Posted April 8, 2020
 
Wage & Hour Division of U.S. Department of Labor --- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
 
These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
 
PAID LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS
Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees:
Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:
  • 100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;
  • 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and 6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 for qualifying reason #5 below for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total.
A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.
 
ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES
In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons (see below). Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave for reason #5 below.
 
QUALIFYING REASONS FOR LEAVE RELATED TO COVID-19
An employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee:
  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
  6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
ENFORCEMENT
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has the authority to investigate and enforce compliance with the FFCRA. Employers may not discharge, discipline, or oth erwise discriminate against any employee who lawfully takes paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA, files a complaint, or institutes a proceeding under or related to this Act. Employers in violation of the provisions of the FFCRA will be subject to penalties and enforcement by WHD.

 
SBA Disaster Loans for Small Business
Posted March 31, 2020
 
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, the SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
 
IMTA has reached out to a number of different sources to get relevant details specific to IMTA member requests. Upon getting the information, IMTA will share w/the membership and also will be setting up member webinars…so stay tuned. 
 
For the time being, SBA's website offers a wealth of information to assist with some of the questions you may have. Click here to review the disaster assistance information provided by SBA.

 
Commercial Driver's License, Medical Certification, TWIC Cards & Drug/Alcohol Testing
Posted March 23, 2020
 
The Iowa DOT has received confirmation that FMCSA is allowing states to extend the expiration dates on Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs). The regulations allow states to extend the expiration date for up to one year during emergency situations, however, the state must be back into compliance once the emergency situation is over.
 
The CDL expiration issue is being handled on a state-by-state basis, but Iowa has extended the expiration date for CDLs until the end of the emergency. Iowa DOT is continuing to issue CDL renewals but are now requiring appointments in order to visit Driver’s License locations across the state.
 
Medical Certification
Iowa DOT has also received notification from FMCSA that they are allowed to extend the downgrading of a CDL due to not having an updated medical certification reported to Iowa DOT. That means that if a driver’s medical certificate on file with the DOT expires, their CDL will not be downgraded. Again, this extension ends at the end of the emergency.
 
TWIC Cards
TSA has no immediate plans to close all enrollment centers, but some enrollment centers have closed or will have modified hours. TSA and the USCG encourage all applicants to apply at least 60 to 90 days in advance of expiration to prevent disruption in TWIC validity. If drivers find that their enrollments center is closed, they may request that their TWIC Card be transferred to another Universal Enrollment Services enrollment center or request direct shipment of the card to a designated address. Drivers may contact the UES Call Center at 855-347-8371 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM Eastern time.
 
Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements
FMCSA is not exempting drug and alcohol testing requirements during this time. However, they do realize that compliance may not be possible in certain areas due to the unavailability of program resources, such as collection sites. FMCSA is requiring that carriers make a reasonable effort to located the necessary resources, but in the event that they are not able to conduct a DOT drug or alcohol test they should document why the test was not conducted. Once the emergency is over carriers will be required to conduct the missed tests later in the selection period. This should be the exception, not a blanket waiver for testing.
 
FMCSA suggests that if testing is an issue, carriers should partner with a different collection site, a mobile collection service, etc. to ensure that they meet testing requirements.
 
The FMCSA Guidance also requires that nothing waives the requirement to have a negative pre-employment test result prior to permitting a new employee to perform any DOT safety sensitive function. That means that if you do not have a negative pre-employment test result, you may not allow that driver to drive.