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March 26, 2020 11:15 AM, EDT

Elaine Chao, Jim Mullen Honor Truckers, Update Industry Stakeholders

ChaoChao speaks at a past White House event. (Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg News)

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Federal transportation leaders thanked members of the trucking industry and updated them on recent regulatory actions during a conference call March 25.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Motor Carrier Safety acting Administrator Jim Mullen participated in the call, which included more than 460 representatives of the commercial motor vehicle industry.

Chao gave special recognition to drivers, who continue to deliver food, medical supplies, sanitary products and paper goods amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know it hasn’t been easy,” Chao said. “But the whole country is cheering on America’s truckers and motor carrier drivers as they work tirelessly to keep our country’s supply chains strong and our economy moving.”

Within the past two weeks, FMCSA issued an exemption from certain hours-of-service regulations for motor carriers involved in relief efforts. The agency subsequently expanded the exemption to include haulers of goods such as fuel and raw materials. On March 24, FMCSA issued a notice indicating limited exemptions will be granted for expired commercial driver licenses, learner permits and medical certifications.

Chao said she has asked Mullen to work with state departments of transportation on keeping rest areas open so drivers have a safe place to spend off-duty time.

Additionally, Chao told listeners that DOT shares their input and concerns with the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, includes Joel Szabat, the acting under secretary for policy at DOT.

“Every day, we feed the critical information we get from you and other stakeholders into the task force, so they can get a complete picture of how COVID-19 is impacting our country and craft policies to address it,” Chao said. “So if you have concerns and issues that need to be addressed, we want to hear from you.”

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