Across the country, kids are going back to school, the leaves are changing colors, and the trucking industry is pushing forward after a long, hard year. With continued debate in California, additional changes to the FMCSA HOS exemptions, and anticipation for a busy holiday season, our industry still has a few hurdles ahead of us before the year’s end. Here’s some pertinent news from around the trucking industry to take you into October.
Court of Appeals Split on CA AB5
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments regarding California’s gig worker bill, CA AB5. Earlier this year, the lower courts upheld a temporary injunction that exempts contract drivers and owner-operators from the law. Citing the Federal Aviation Administration Act (FA4) of 1994, the California Trucking Association (CTA) asserted that FA4 bars any state law “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier…with respect to the transportation of property.”
The Teamsters union and the CTA joined legal forces defending the injunction this month, asserting that CA AB5 is an “all or nothing” mandate, and that earlier cases have made it clear that such mandates are not permissible under FA4. They argued that CA AB5 makes it very difficult for carriers to hire owner-operators and independent contractors. In defense of the law, AB5 sponsors argued that owner-operators are an “outdated” model.
To make a long story short, the fight for independent truckers, and contracting in general, is far from over. As the CTA and the Teamsters battle AB5 proponents in court, the law itself is eroding as more industries get added to the exemption list. California governor Gavin Newsom signed CA AB 2257 into law, which adds artists, writers, musicians, real estate appraisers and inspectors, sports coaches and more to the growing list of workers who do not fall under the CA AB5 A-B-C test criteria. California voters also have the chance to override CA AB5 for its originally intended industry–Proposition 22, if approved by voters, would classify app-based drivers as independent contractors, and not employees or agents. It would override CA AB5 for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other app-based drivers.
Watch the full appeals court oral arguments to see how the CTA is working to secure the future for contract drivers.
Changes to the Hours of Service Exemption Rules
On Tuesday, September 29th, yet another new FMCSA rule goes into effect. The changes increase flexibility for the 30-minute break from driving, modify sleeper-berth exemptions, modify the adverse driving conditions exemption, and change the short-haul exemptions for some drivers.
- 30-minute break: Under the new rule, drivers must take a 30-minute break after accumulating 8 hours of driving time. However, drivers are offered more flexibility as to what is allowable during the break. They can load/unload, fuel, conduct vehicle inspections, do paperwork, or engage in other, non-driving work activities during their break. While these exemptions offer flexibility, many carriers are concerned about driver fatigue. Encouraging work-free breaks may be a wise choice for drivers who are pushing their hours of service in support of pandemic relief.
- Sleeper-berth exemptions: The new exemption allows drivers a new 7/3 split option that gives additional flexibility for them to pause their 14-hour clock. While drivers are not exempt from the 10-hour total rest requirement, they can split that time into at least 7 consecutive hours of rest, and a minimum off-duty period of two hours either inside or outside the berth. The remaining hour of required rest may be taken either as part of the long rest, or as an additional short rest.
- Adverse driving conditions: With the winter months approaching, the FMCSA has altered the adverse driving condition exemption. Under the new rule, drivers may extend both their driving time and on-duty limits by up to 2 hours if delayed by unforeseen weather or traffic conditions. It goes without saying that safety is paramount. Checking the weather and traffic before you drive can help drivers avoid dangerous conditions that would lead to driving time extensions. However, the provision is there for those unexpected moments.
- Short-haul exemptions: In the FMCSA’s clarification of the existing exemption, short-haul drivers are exempt from normal grid logs, 30-minute breaks, and supporting documents under §395.11. Additionally, short-haul, noncommercial drivers are exempt from the 14-hour daily work limit no more than two times per week. That doesn’t mean short-haul drivers are exempt from DOT rules. Driver qualification files, HOS limits, medical cards and more still apply.
Clarification of the Six-Month Extension on CDL Expirations in Arizona
On September 1, 2020, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order deferring requirements to renew standard drivers licenses that expire during the 2020 calendar year. The executive order DOES NOT apply to commercial driver’s licenses (CDL). If your CDL expired any time between March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020, you have a six-month extension from the original expiration date only. You must renew your CDL during that 6-month period to remain compliant. The Arizona Transportation Association is working with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department to make CDL renewable without an appointment. However, making an appointment can save you time.
Expect a High-Intensity Peak Season for 2020
The general consensus from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals EDGE 2020 virtual conference is that the 2020 holiday season is going to come sooner than expected, with increased demands, and will last longer than is typical. While that’s good news for carriers who are looking to make up for lost revenue during our rocky year-to-date, potential driver shortages present a significant problem. If you represent a carrier company, and you’re faced with leaving money on the table due to a driver shortage, F|Staff can help.
F|Staff helps carriers claim business during the peak season by offering on-demand drivers right when you need them. Our drivers are DOT-verified, background checked, and drug screened. We also provide carriers with the ability to limit search criteria by driver experience and location. Because F|Staff is an on-demand driver leasing app, and not a job board, you skip the lengthy driver interview and vetting process. All of that is already done for you when your driver shows up to work. You supply the truck and job criteria, qualified drivers come to you, and you only pay for the drivers’ time that you use. It’s that easy.
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