March 11, 2019 12:15 PM, EDT

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Suspends HOS Rules in Wake of Flooding

Suspends HOS RulesA camper stands in flood water from the Tennessee River March 8. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

Rules pertaining to hours of service have been relaxed for certain truckers in Tennessee who are involved in relief efforts.

Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order March 7 suspending provisions of certain laws to better facilitate relief operations directed at those who have been impacted by the heavy rains, flooding and strong winds that have pelted the state since early February. The National Weather Service reports that Tennessee received between 10 and 20 inches of rain in February.

Suspends HOS Rules


The heavy rains have caused slope failures and swollen rivers. According to the executive order, 83 of Tennessee’s 95 counties have reported flooding and severe weather impacts. Some 19 of the counties have declared states of emergency. The Tennessee Department of Transportation identified 232 locations in those 83 counties where the storms have damaged infrastructure and compromised traffic flow. The department anticipates that more locations may be identified once floodwaters recede.

Lee’s executive order provides a temporary exemption from the federal regulations limiting hours of service for truck drivers who are hauling supplies, equipment and personnel to people impacted by the storms. The order will remain in effect until April 7. Requirements surrounding commercial driver licenses and size and weight restrictions remain in place.

“No motor carrier operating under the terms of this order shall require or allow an ill or fatigued driver to operate a motor vehicle,” the executive order states. “A driver who notifies a motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty before the driver is required to return to service.”

The executive order also allows pharmacists to dispense a 20-day supply of prescription drugs to flood victims without proper authorization and suspends Tennessee residency as a requirement for evacuees interested in participating in certain Department of Health programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children and Children’s Special Services.

Executive Order by on Scribd

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security has been granted temporary authority to waive applicable fees for duplicate driver licenses and photo identification licenses issued to people impacted by the severe weather.

Tennessee law stipulates that, during a state of emergency, the governor may suspend regulations dictating the procedures of conduct for state agencies if strict compliance with any law hinders emergency response activities.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a similar executive order pertaining to HOS laws Nov. 7 as the state braced for Hurricane Florence. The executive order suspended size and weight restrictions and HOS rules for drivers restoring utilities, removing debris and hauling food, medicine, fuel, livestock feed, poultry and crops.