GAWDA Safety Alert — COVID-19 Update: FMCSA; TSA; CDC

Safety Alert (April 6, 2020)

This GAWDA Safety Alert is issued to inform GAWDA members of updates and notifications relevant to COVID-19.  (Click here to download a copy of the Safety Alert.)


  • FMCSA Grants CLP Waiver
  • TSA Issues Temporary Exemption
  • FMCSA Acting Administrator Addresses COVID-19 Issues
  • CDC Recommendation on Cloth Face Coverings

FMCSA Grants Waiver for CLP Holders to Operate CMVs. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a waiver through June 30, 2020 that allows a Commercial Learner’s Permit holder to operate a commercial motor vehicle on public roads or highways without an accompanying Commercial Driver’s License holder present in the front seat of the vehicle, provided that the CDL holder is elsewhere in the cab.

The CLP holder must also be in possession of evidence from the testing jurisdiction, including an authorized third-party tester, that the CLP holder has passed the CDL driving skills test, and, unless the FMCSA waiver issued on March 24, 2020 applies, that the CLP holder has a valid non-CDL driver’s license, CLP, and medical certificate.

In order the address the problem of States closing their driver licensing agencies during to COVID-19 outbreak, the waiver further provides that a State may elect to administer a driving skills test to any out of state CDL applicant, regardless of where the applicant received driver training.

TSA Issues Temporary Exemption for Expired Hazmat Endorsements. 

The Transportation Security Administration has issued a temporary exemption that allows States to grant an extension of up to 180 days for a Hazardous Materials Endorsement that expired or would otherwise expire between March 1, 2020 and the end date of this exemption, even if the individual was unable to initiate or complete the required Security Threat Assessment (background check) before the expiration date.

Under TSA regulations, a State may not issue or renew an HME for a CDL unless the State first receives a Determination of No Security Threat on the driver from the TSA. Drivers renewing their HME are required to initiate a Security Threat Assessment at least 60 days before expiration. The process of initiating an STA requires drivers to submit information either to the State driver licensing agency or to TSA enrollment center, including fingerprints and background information. Many CDL drivers, however, have been unable to access state driver licensing agencies or TSA enrollment centers to provide fingerprints and in-person interviews required for HME renewal due to COVID-19 related closures.

TSA is allowing states to extend the HMEs for up to 180 days. The TSA announcement does not provide an automatic renewal of HMEs nationwide. Instead, each State must issue its own waiver for the automatic extension to become effective within the State. States are expected to grant similar waivers given the inability of drivers to initiate an STA due to COVID-19 closures.

The exemption applies to an individual who held a valid, unexpired HME with an STA (Determination of No Security Threat) on or after March 1, 2020, which HME has expired or would otherwise expire between that date and the close of the effective period of this exemption.

If the state grants an extension, the individual with an expired HME must initiate the process of renewing his or her STA for an HME no later than 60 days before the end of the State granted extension. TSA may extend this exemption at a future date depending on the status of the COVID-19 crisis.

FMCSA Acting Administrator Addresses COVID-19 Issues. 

On an April 3 conference call with industry representatives, FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen listed a number of regulatory relief steps his agency is taking in response to the COVID-19 crisis.  He noted that some 22 States have closed their State Driver Licensing Agency, which places a special burden on companies trying to bring new CDL drivers into service.

Mr. Mullen stated that FMCSA has been working the last several days to encourage States to keep some mechanism open for new driver applicants to take the knowledge test, either in person or online.  He noted the FMCSA’s March 28 waiver allows States to administer a driving skills test to any out of state CDL applicant, regardless of where the applicant received driver training.

Also, in States that authorize third party skills testers, FMCSA is working to have those States allow third party knowledge testers and to keep the Driver Licensing Agency’s back office open to upload the knowledge test scores and grant CLPs.

Mr. Mullen further noted that every State is now recognizing the validity of expired CDLs through June 30, 2020.

He also said that FMCSA has worked with the Federal Highway Administration to keep all rest stops open on Interstate highways, and is trying to ensure that truck stops remain open to serve drivers and their vehicles.

Mr. Mullen referred to guidance that FMCSA and DOT have provided on drug and alcohol testing, and said that his agency would “not bring the hammer down” if companies cannot get to a 50% random drug testing rate this year due to closings.

Finally, he stated that FMCSA had posted on its website guidance from the Centers for Disease Control for truck drivers operating into and out of the New York City area.  The CDC guidance states:

Truck drivers and other people driving into the city to deliver needed supplies should stay in their vehicles as much as possible as supplies are loaded and unloaded, avoid being within 6 feet of others as much as possible when they exit their vehicles, and move to electronic receipts if possible. If these drivers need to spend the night in the greater New York City area, they should stay in their hotel rooms or sleeper cab, when available, to the extent possible and continue to practice social distancing. Drivers who take these precautions should not need to self-quarantine when they leave the greater New York area, unless self-quarantine is recommended by state or local officials for all residents in the areas where they live.

Truck drivers and other workers who obtain or deliver needed supplies who live in the greater New York area may continue to work both within and outside of the greater New York area but should stay at home and practice social distancing according to instructions of state and local officials when they are not working. While they are working either within or outside of the greater New York area, they should stay in their vehicles as much as possible, avoid being within 6 feet of others as much as possible when they exit their vehicles, and move to electronic receipts if possible.

CDC Recommendation on Cloth Face Coverings.

COVID-19 can spread between people interacting in close proximity: e.g., speaking, coughing, or sneezing. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Cloth face coverings should —

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Directions on how to wear a face covering and instructions on making face coverings/masks on the CDC website:

In our industry, it is advisable to wear face coverings when making deliveries or working in close proximity to others (on loading docks, fill stations, offices).

This GAWDA Safety Alert is issued by GAWDA Consultants Rick Schweitzer, Esq. and Marilyn Dempsey. Please contact Rick or Marilyn for further information.

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