2020 Year in Review for Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

Dec 31, 2020 | Industry News

When?What happened?What does it mean?
Jan. 6The new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse was launched.Motor carriers must query the database for all new drivers and annually for all existing CDL drivers, and must ensure that violations are reported to the Clearinghouse.
Jan. 15FMCSA launched a new Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study.When complete in roughly two years, the study should shed light on ways to prevent truck and bus crashes.
Feb. 4The compliance deadline for new entry-level driver training rules was pushed back two years to February 7, 2022.Motor carriers need to continue complying with the new-driver training rules in Part 380 for at least another year. The 2022 rules will require drivers to obtain training as a prerequisite to getting a new CDL or endorsement.
Feb. 28FMCSA launched a study of the problem of harassment and assaults against minority and female truckers.The study, scheduled for completion this year, could lead to recommendations for preventing driver harassment and assaults.
March 13FMCSA began issuing a series of waivers and exemptions for drivers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these were eventually extended through the end of 2020.A list of current FMCSA exemptions and waivers is available at
March 23TSA issued a final rule requiring security training for motorcoach drivers operating on fixed routes into or out of 10 major metro areas.Though the rolling compliance deadlines have been delayed (training programs are now due by March 22, 2021), affected bus companies will still need to comply with the new rules in 49 CFR Part 1570.
April 1Drivers found with violations in the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse began being placed out of service.Motor carriers may never use a driver who is listed in the Clearinghouse as being “prohibited” from driving.
April 28FMCSA issued a proposed rule to require states to downgrade CDL drivers’ licenses whenever a drug or alcohol violation is added to the Clearinghouse.The FMCSA could issue the final rule at any time, though implementation by the states will take time.
May 6FMCSA launched an enhanced Crash Preventability Determination Program.Motor carriers and drivers can use DataQs to challenge the preventability of 10 types of reportable crashes.
May 19Due to the pandemic, FMCSA began conducting off-site compliance reviews.Motor carriers are being audited from a remote location and asked to upload compliance documents via an online portal. They can even receive a safety rating without ever seeing the auditor.
June 1Four key provisions in the hours-of-service rules were revised, adding needed flexibility for truck and bus drivers.As of Sept. 29, 2020, drivers can take advantage of new flexibility related to 30-minute breaks, short-haul operations, sleeper-berth usage, and adverse conditions.
Aug. 17A new version of the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) was approved for use.The new form must be used for all drug tests starting no later than August 30, 2021.
Aug. 17FMCSA removed the requirement that bus drivers complete no-defect DVIRs.Bus drivers are now exempt from needing to complete post-trip inspection reports when there are no defects to report.
Sept. 3FMCSA launched a pilot program to study whether drivers should be allowed to pause the 14-hour clock with rest breaks of up to 3 hours.If the study is a success, the FMCSA may change its rules to allow all truck drivers to pause the 14-hour clock.
Sept. 10The Department of Health proposed new guidelines for hair testing.If finalized, the DOT and FMCSA will need to amend their drug testing rules to allow hair testing in place of urine.
Sept. 25FMCSA updated the list of violations tracked in its CSA program.Most changes involved an expansion of existing violations and were insignificant. In all, 63 new violations were added, 4 were removed, the 34 received new descriptions.
Oct. 8FMCSA issued an exemption allowing pulsating brake lights on tanker trucks to help prevent rear-end crashes.The five-year exemption allows motor carriers to install pulsating red or amber brake lights on tankers.
Nov. 24FMCSA issued a new rule clarifying the definition of agricultural commodity, effective December 9.New definitions in §395.2 expand the number of carriers eligible for two agriculture-related hours-of-service exceptions.

About the Author


What it takes to advocate for legal abuse reform

Pamella De Leon The surge of nuclear verdicts – post-crash jury awards exceeding over $10 million – against trucking companies have sent shockwaves through the industry. Despite a decrease in fatal crashes, verdicts are increasing, according to a 2023 study by the...

ELD Mandate Comparison: Canada and the U.S.

Learn about the notable differences between the Canadian and US mandate rules. Mark Samber Canada’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate was adopted on June 12, 2019, and is effective for all federally-regulated carriers. The Canadian mandate closely follows the...

How to Get More Out of Commercial Driver Vehicle Inspections

Deborah Lockridge   When Tom Bray was in charge of safety at a motor carrier, a frustration was seeing drivers leave the yard with an easily correctable problem that could result in a violation or worse — but should have been found in a driver vehicle inspection...

When Must Truckers Complete a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report?

Deborah Lockridge A common misconception about driver vehicle inspection reports for truckers and other commercial drivers is that one is required at every pre-trip inspection. How often must a walk-around pre-trip inspection be conducted? Before every trip. How often...