For the first time ever, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a nationwide declaration exempting carriers transporting essential goods and personnel to assist with coronavirus relief from the Hours of Service (HOS) mandate.
While exceptions have been made in the past for areas impacted by severe weather events, there has never been an emergency exemption covering the entire United States.
The HOS temporary suspension comes on the heels of President Donald Trump’s March 13 national emergency declaration in response to the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus (COVID-19) which has already caused significant disruptions, quarantines, and death overseas, primarily in China and Italy. The exemption is scheduled to run through April 12, or when the emergency is over.
The suspension applies to Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which address hours of service, parts and accessories needed for safe operation, and longer combination vehicles.
According to the FMCSA, drivers transporting the following items to support COVID-19 relief are exempt from HOS requirements:
All rules not pertaining to HOS and COVID-19, such as required commercial driver licenses, registration, and drug and alcohol polices remain in effect.
FMCSA acting Administrator Jim Mullen stated, “Because of the decisive leadership of President Trump and [Transportation] Secretary [Elaine] Chao, this declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently.” Mullen said, “FMCSA is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and stands ready to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”
Moving forward, there are four important points that carriers should keep in mind:
Visit the FMCSA website for more information on its response to COVID-19 and how this affects you. Logistec/TTS wishes you good health and safe travels. Continue to follow Logistec/TTS for the latest company and industry news.