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New Federal Mask Requirements Impact on Truck Drivers

Posted: March 03, 2021

Federal regulations now require face masks on commercial transportation, including aircraft, trains, ferries, and all forms of public transportation. This applies to operators as well as passengers, but does this apply to truck drivers? The CDC’s mask regulation states that those operating commercial motor vehicles or trucks (weighing 10,001 pounds or more) are exempt from the requirement “if the driver is sole occupant of the vehicle or truck.”

However, drivers should pay attention to the new provisions when entering an airport, seaport or other transportation hub to drop off or pick up cargo. The federal mask order mandated that any on-site employee, contractor, or visitor in Federal buildings and on Federal land should wear masks, continue to practice social distancing, and adhere to any other public health measure provided in the CDC’s guidelines. Drivers continue to be subject to any requirements in place at private facilities such as shippers/receivers and truck stops.

John Gallagher with freightwaves.com details that the regulation provides that operators “must use best efforts to ensure that anyone on or entering the premises is wearing a mask.” The efforts include

  • Allowing entry only to those wearing masks
  • Instructing persons that federal law requires the wearing of a mask while in the transportation hub and failure to comply constitutes the violation of federal law
  • Monitoring the premises, identifying anyone who is not wearing a mask, and seeking compliance from those identified individuals
  • Swiftly removing from the premises any individual who refuses to comply
  • Providing individuals with adequate notice to facilitate awareness and compliance with the mask order

Even as vaccinations become available, COVID-19 will continue to be a major threat to public health for some time. While masking policies may have been in effect, the new requirements allow facilities to enforce the policies they have already set in place to improve safety. While the requirements on federal properties and some individual establishments may have more restrictions, the typical day of a truck driver should be largely unaffected, but maybe a little safer.