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FMCSA proposes adjusting scope of regulatory relief during emergencies

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Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is requesting public comment on a proposed rule that would “narrow the scope” of temporary hours-of-service exemptions and other regulatory relief for truckers during emergency declarations.

As outlined in a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Dec. 8 Federal Register, FMCSA is seeking to:

  • Modify the definition of “emergency” to clarify that emergency regulatory relief doesn’t apply to economic conditions caused by market forces, including material or supply shortages, labor strikes, or driver shortages, “unless such conditions or events cause an immediate threat to human life and result in a declaration of emergency.”
  • Remove the definition of “emergency relief” and amend the definition of “direct assistance” to adopt the vital components of the former definition of “emergency relief.”
  • Exempt drivers and motor carriers for five days – down from 30 – during regional emergency declarations issued by a governor, governor’s representative or FMCSA, and apply exemptions only from certain HOS regulations.

Presidential emergency declarations still would have 30-day exemptions and be applicable to current covered regulations, including those applying to driver qualification requirements and vehicle inspections.

“This change would clarify that carriers and drivers are not authorized to overlook other important safety requirements while performing direct assistance to emergency relief efforts,” FMCSA says. “By limiting the scope of the current rule on emergency regulatory relief, the NPRM would clarify that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations not relevant to most emergency situations remain in effect while retaining the agency’s flexibility to tailor emergency relief to the specific circumstances of an emergency.”

FMCSA adds that it “has no information that suggests that existing emergency exemptions have negatively impacted road safety.”

The deadline to comment is Feb. 6.

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