While the State of Emergency regarding hours-of-service and COVID-19 has been extended only forty-five days, its sister declaration regarding the handling of Commercial Learner’s Permits (CPLs) has been extended the typical ninety days.
Under normal circumstances, a CLP driver needs to have a driver with a CDL riding shotgun for the duration of training. With coronavirus making six feet social distancing rules common, the FMCSA is instead allowing the CDL-holder to be anywhere in the truck cab while the student is driving.
Beyond this, the waiver grants CLP drivers the option to take the CDL test immediately after finishing the CLP period, as opposed to the standard fourteen days.
Finally, it allows any State to test any CLP driver for their CDL, even if they did not do the training in that state.
In its Declaration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says this extension “[will] continue the ability of intrastate and interstate CDL and CLP holders to transport goods and people and to provide flexibilities to State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) to accelerate CDL testing.” Indeed, the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic can still be felt today with supply chain shortages on various raw materials from rubber to aluminum, some of which are used to manufacture trucks.
As with all regulation suspensions, there are stipulations involved. For example, nothing in the waiver applies to trucks holding hazardous materials. When you are hauling nuclear waste and a spill can be catastrophic, side-by-side training is deemed to be more important than the symptoms from catching COVID-19. For more stipulations, read under “Terms, Conditions, and Restrictions of the Waiver.”
The FMCSA mentions that it may reduce the amount of freedom the exemption brings or may end it sooner than ninety days if needed, but such events are unlikely considering previous results.
If the extension is any metric to go by, this is the tenth time the FMCSA has extended the Declaration. Hopefully the lingering effects of the pandemic come to an end soon. With the twin Declarations extended, hopefully supply chain issues can be resolved soon as well.
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