The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a national emergency declaration to alleviate hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency supplies in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
This is the first time FMCSA has declared a nation-wide adjustment to the policy. It follows President Trump’s national emergency announcement in response to growing concerns surrounding COVID-19.
Any truck driver called upon to haul supplies and goods for emergency relief will be exempt from the U.S. DOT’s HOS rules which state truck drivers are limited to drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour time period. During this national emergency, those rules no longer apply.
FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance for:
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
- Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for health care worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities;
- Food for emergency restocking of stores;
- Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19;
- Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
- Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.
“Because of the decisive leadership of President Trump and Secretary Chao, this declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen. “FMCSA is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and stands ready to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”
Drivers are still asked to get proper rest while hauling emergency supply loads.
Texas waives further trucking regulations
On March 16, Texas Governor Greg Abbott waived several commercial trucking regulations to boost supply chains.
Abbott said the measures were aimed at keeping trucks moving to deliver supplies to grocery stores.
“By waiving these regulations, we are streamlining the process to replenish the shelves in grocery stores across the state,” Abbott said in a statement. “We are all in this together, and I want to remind all Texans that hoarding resources is neither necessary nor productive. Texas has the supplies to meet the needs of Texans, and we will continue to expedite the flow of groceries to stores across the state.”
Abbott also waived state laws prohibiting alcohol industry trucks from delivering supplies to grocery stores, and oversize and overweight restrictions on commercial trucks. He also suspended the need to register under the International Registration Plan or to obtain 72-hour and 144-hour temporary registration permits, as long as the truck is registered in one of the states of the U.S.