States Approve Rule Exemptions to Speed Florida Relief Efforts
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Motor carriers transporting relief supplies to regions of Florida and South Carolina affected by Hurricane Ian are working with a variety of emergency vehicle size and weight exemptions in effect in neighboring states, moves made by governors and state agencies looking to help speed relief supplies to storm-ravaged areas.
“Right now it’s a patchwork system,” said Alix Miller, CEO of the Florida Trucking Association, noting that state trucking associations in the region are working together to speed relief efforts.
In the wake of Hurricane Ian, some southern states have enacted emergency orders to help trucks pass through with relief supplies. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration exempted hours-of-service rules for delivery of relief supplies, and the president's emergency declaration triggered the ability of states to exempt weight restrictions. With supplies coming in from around the country, neighboring states have passed their own exemptions to help move supplies along.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Sept. 28 issued an executive order that included a 30-day emergency waiver for limited weight and size restrictions for some vehicles supporting hurricane-related emergency relief.
The same day, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an emergency 15-day order to waive/suspend the application and enforcement of state and federal rules and regulations regarding registration, permitting, length, width, weight, load and hours of service for commercial vehicles and operators providing direct emergency assistance for emergencies declared in that state, North Carolina or Georgia.
Rick Todd, CEO of the South Carolina Trucking Association, said, “Our state law has an automatic emergency declaration trigger should one of our adjacent states initiate one, which speeds up higher response capabilities. Unfortunately, most of us are getting pretty used to dealing with these natural disasters and other events.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Oct. 3 renewed an executive order approving a state of emergency for supply chain disruptions, providing exemptions for height, weight and length exemptions on state roads (not interstates) for commercial vehicles traveling through Georgia providing relief supplies.
Noting the destruction in neighboring Florida and South Carolina, Kemp spoke about supporting “these neighbors in need” and sending “resources and volunteers to aid in their recovery.”
The Alabama Department of Transportation on Sept. 27 issued an emergency order enabling supply trucks and other emergency response vehicles to bypass weigh stations. The exemption, which expires Oct. 24, does not apply to vehicles that require permits to operate on state roadways. It specifically declared no exemptions are granted for size or weight restrictions.
Ford Boswell, Alabama Trucking Association spokesman, said, “Our association leaders, particularly our vice president of safety and compliance Tim Frazier, have been in close contact with our partners at the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for updates on relaxed weight and hour restrictions for those directly involved in hauling supplies and equipment to assist or support relief efforts.”
Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray signed an order effective Sept. 26 to provide emergency relief for commercial vehicles, including waiving weigh station stops when responding to hurricane-affected areas. It also exempted permit fees for overweight/over-dimensional vehicles and hours of service when providing power restoration in stricken areas. The order expires Oct. 20.
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Miller, who serves on the Florida Department of Emergency Management’s Emergency Support Functions and has spent time working with the state Highway Patrol and Emergency Operations Center, stressed that in times of emergency Florida motor carriers are there for each other. “For instance, a company who will not be hauling/working for a while based on location and sector is offering up tractors and drivers to other companies to assist,” she said.
Longer term, she looks forward to even greater cooperation with neighboring states.
“We are actively working for state coordination before and after a disaster to get the most assistance possible,” Miller said.