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March 18, 2020 6:00 PM, EDT

FMCSA Issues Expanded HOS Emergency Declaration

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 18 issued an expanded national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency supplies in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

FMCSA’s expanded declaration provides relief for CMV operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  •  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 such as 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, such as paper, plastic or alcohol, that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
  •  Fuel.
  •  Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
  •  Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
  •  Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.

RELATED: FMCSA Issues HOS Relief for Coronavirus Assistance

The expanded declaration stipulates that direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration, the agency said.

The emergency declaration also stipulates that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off-duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers.

“Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce,” the declaration said.

“Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399,” the declaration added.

It also said that 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.

FMCSA’s emergency declaration is the first time the agency has issued nationwide relief and follows President Donald Trump issuing a national emergency declaration in response to the virus, FMCSA said.

“The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement.

“Under Secretary Chao’s leadership, 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,” FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen said in a statement. “We will continue to support them and use our authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

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