EMERGENCY: FMCSA Suspends H.O.S. Nationwide in Support of Coronavirus Relief Efforts
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has taken the unprecedented action of issuing a nationwide Emergency Declaration to suspend hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The Agency’s declaration comes only hours after President Donald Trump declared a “national emergency” over the emerging health crisis.
“I am officially declaring a national emergency — two very big words,” President Trump said on Friday afternoon from the Rose Garden at the White House.
“This Declaration addresses National emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons,” the FMCSA’s Emergency Declaration states.
In announcing the nationwide Emergency Declaration, the Agency says it is the first time in its history it has taken such an action.
FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said, “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. 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.”
The Emergency Declaration is effective immediately and will be until the termination of the “national emergency” or until April 12, 2020.
More Specifics of the Emergency Declaration
Specifically, the Emergency Declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations that are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transportation to meet immediate needs for:
(1) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
(2) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants;
(3) food for emergency restocking of stores;
(4) equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;
(5) persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and
(6) persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.
It’s important to note that direct assistance does NOT include routine commercial deliveries, or transportation of mixed loads that include essential supplies, equipment and persons, along with supplies, equipment and persons that are NOT being transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks.
Further, direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are NOT in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.
Moreover, the Emergency Declaration stipulates that once a driver engaging in “direct assistance” has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.
FMCSRs pertaining to the controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements, the commercial driver’s license requirements, the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements, the hazardous material regulations, applicable size and weight requirements, and any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted in the Emergency Declaration are still in effect, the Agency says.
Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the regulatory relief until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded by the FMCSA.
The Agency says it is coordinating with each State and recommends checking each State’s website and search for “Issued Emergency Declarations” if you are interested in more details.
READ the entire Emergency Declaration HERE.