December 2020: Driver Shortages, Fuel Cells, FMCSA Proposal, CDL Extensions End

December 2020: Driver Shortages, Fuel Cells, FMCSA Proposal, CDL Extensions End

Every month in 2020 has brought the transportation industry significant change and December seems determined to end the year in that spirit. Driver shortages continue as we enter 2021, with ongoing demand but a significantly reduced workforce. Several factors contribute to this, from traditional issues of job conditions to more recent challenges due to the public health crisis. Another compounding factor is that more than 40,000 commercial operators have been removed from the road this year after testing positive for marijuana use. The upside to driver shortages and increased market demand is that most carriers will be able to increase rates, helping to improve labor conditions for their drivers as well.

In more hopeful news, the first fuel cell Kenworth’s arrive in Los Angeles and Long Beach by December, with more to come in the next several months. Though this represents only a handful of test cases, these pioneering vehicles could dramatically reduce pollution and operating costs for carriers while improving living and working conditions for drivers and for those who interact with commercial vehicles on a regular basis.

Regulatory changes also seem imminent as the FMCSA proposes to eliminate 391.27. This regulation currently requires drivers to certify their violations even though motor carriers already do this for them annually under 391.25(a). While retaining this section, the proposed regulation amends it to require carriers to inquire about the MVR of foreign licensed drivers to the foreign authority by whom they are licensed. It would also amend the requirement of an inquiry of the foreign authority at the time of hiring.

Finally, extensions for CDL certs, registration, accessibility, and a variety of other documents come to a close on 12/31. Make sure your drivers and vehicles are prepared for renewal before 2021 begins in order to avoid fines and penalties. With most motor vehicle departments still observing limited hours and appointment-only protocols, renewal, registration, and certification procedures can take longer than usual – allow for extra time to avoid unexpected operational delays.

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