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August 30, 2019 12:00 PM, EDT

FMCSA Declares Emergency Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

People in Florida prepare after FMCSA announced a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Dorian. Florida residents prepare for Hurricane Dorian. (Ellis Rua/Associated Press)

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an emergency declaration Aug. 29 for the states and territories that are expected to lie in Hurricane Dorian’s path, offering regulatory waivers for motor carriers involved in relief efforts.

The declaration applies to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to the National Weather Service, the hurricane has reached a maximum sustained wind of 110 mph and could hit the U.S. mainland the morning of Sept. 3.

“This emergency declaration addresses anticipated emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, equipment, fuel and persons and provides necessary relief,” FMCSA’s declaration states.

Specifically, FMCSA’s notice grants exemption from Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which cover parts and accessories needed for safe operation, hours of service and longer combination vehicles. Drivers are not exempt from requirements relating to commercial driver licenses, drugs and alcohol, hazardous materials, size, weight and registration requirements.

The declaration applies to carriers who are providing direct assistance in supporting emergency relief efforts. According to the notice, “direct assistance” terminates when a driver engages in interstate commerce to transport cargo that doesn’t relate to emergency relief efforts, or when a dispatcher sends a driver to another location to begin engaging in interstate commerce.

“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,” under the declaration.

FMCSA’s emergency declaration was made one day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a similar declaration in preparation of the storm.