Hours of Service regulations suspended for wildfire recovery efforts

Ventura, Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties are all in a state of emergency.

Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Ventura County which temporarily suspends the Hours of Service Regulation for California truck drivers.

In an NPR press release, Governor Brown stated he has made “emergency declarations for Ventura, Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties and asked the White House for a presidential decree for federal assistance.”

The request was granted on Friday.

Truck drivers providing emergency assistance to wildfire relief will not be constrained by the traditional hours of service regulation. This will allow drivers to aid relief for longer periods of time and not have to worry about stopping to take breaks if the driver feels a break is not necessary.

Thousands of people have been placed under mandatory evacuation orders by the state.

As of Friday, 4 people have already been hospitalized with smoke inhalation, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Cal Fire Division Chief Nick Schuler said, “People need to be ready because this fire could make it all the way through Oceanside to the coast if it continues.”

This suspension of Hours of Service regulation suspension is limited to a maximum of 30 days, unless extended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA has guidelines that detail the extent an emergency declaration:

  1. Drivers responding to provide “direct assistance” to an “emergency” meeting the definitions in 49 CFR 390.5 and declared by FMCSA or a governor, are exempt from applicable regulations in all States on their route to the emergencyeven though those States may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.
  2. These exemptions, when in effect, only apply to 49 CFR Parts 390-399. They do NOT exempt drivers/carriers from the requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size & weight, or State/Federal registration and tax requirements. (However, a Governor’s Declaration may add some of those exemptions – read the declaration for details.)
  3. Even if an Emergency Declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be on-going and you must be providing direct emergency assistance in order to be exempt from safety regulations.
  4. The list of Emergency Declarations below may not be complete. Declarations may be in effect even if not listed here. Read the declaration itself for all details.
  5. There is no requirement to carry a copy of the declaration in the vehicle unless stated so in the declaration itself.
  6. Drivers and carriers should coordinate with State emergency officials before providing assistance. State regulations regarding size and weight, permits, taxes, etc. may not have been waived.
  7. Even though safety regulations may be suspended, drivers and carriers are expected to use good judgment and not operate vehicles with fatigued or ill drivers, or under any conditions presenting a clear hazard to other motorists using the highways.