COVID-19 pandemic: Expanded FMCSA emergency declaration includes hours-of-service exemptions
Washington — Commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting items intended to assist in COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts are temporarily exempt from federal hours-of-service regulations, under an expanded national emergency declaration issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 18.
The declaration augments an initial declaration issued March 13 and offers regulatory relief to drivers transporting:
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
- Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores
- Immediate precursor raw materials (e.g., paper, plastic or alcohol) that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items
- Equipment, supplies and people necessary to establish and manage temporary housing and quarantine
- People designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes
- People necessary to provide other medical or emergency services
“FMCSA is providing additional regulatory relief to our nation’s commercial drivers to get critically important medical supplies, food and household goods to Americans in need,” acting administrator Jim Mullen said in a March 18 press release. “The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain. We will continue to support them and use our authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”
FMCSA notes that direct assistance excludes routine commercial deliveries, “including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration.”
“Once the driver has returned to the terminal or the driver’s normal reporting location, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibilities and must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers,” the declaration states.
The World Health Organization on March 11 declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.