Orlando, Florida—For the first time since 1938, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stated that truck drivers who are moving goods in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 will not have to follow the hours-of service laws.
Such emergency declarations previously have been issued for state or regional emergencies such as hurricanes or drought, but FMCSA officials confirmed to us that this is the first time a national declaration like this has been issued. As we all know, truck drivers are limited to drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour time period, but when drivers haul loads from emergency organizations, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), those rules no longer apply.
Drivers are still asked to get proper rest while hauling emergency supply loads to ensure goods get to their destination safely and in a timely manner.
It is considered an unprecedented move, given the urgency and pressure that hospitals and retailers are enduring to keep supplies during coronavirus emergency. In other words, truck drivers who are moving medical supplies and consumer goods like masks and hand sanitizer do not have to follow HOS.
Fact: Truck drivers move 70 per cent of the nation's goods by weight. They're responsible for replenishing stores and hospitals with necessary items.
FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs 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 healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
- Equipment, supplies, and food for emergency restocking of stores.
- 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.
According to the Emergency Declaration, However, if the driver informs the motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest, the driver must be permitted at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before the driver is required to return to the motor carrier's terminal or the driver's normal reporting location. Once the driver has returned to the terminal or other 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 8 hours if transporting passengers.
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.
Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by this declaration until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded by FMCSA.
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Insurance Agent - Transportation Specialist