The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an emergency declaration providing regulatory relief for motor carriers and drivers in response to deadly Tropical Storm Gordon.
The FMCSA’s regional emergency declaration is for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, and is intended to “address anticipated emergency conditions in the Affected States creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, equipment and persons” caused by the storm.
Per the emergency declaration, truck drivers and motor carriers who are providing direct emergency relief are exempt from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, which includes Hours of Service regulations.
From the emergency declaration:
“This Emergency Declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations while providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts transporting supplies, equipment, fuel and persons into and from the Affected States or providing other assistance in the form of emergency services during the emergency in the Affected States from Tropical Storm Gordon. Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not directly supporting the emergency relief effort or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce. Upon termination of direct assistance to the emergency relief effort, 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. However, if the driver informs the motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest, the driver must be permitted at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before the driver is required to return to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal reporting location. Once the driver has returned to the terminal or other location, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibilities and must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.”
The emergency declaration does not exempt drivers from regulations involving drug and alcohol use, CDL requirements, insurance requirements, hazmat requirements, size and weight regulations. Carriers or drivers who are out of service are not eligible for the emergency exemption.
The exemption is in place through the duration of the emergency or until October 4, 2018, whichever comes first.
Tropical Storm Gordon is expected to drop as much as 12 inches of rain in some areas and could make driving extremely dangerous.
INTENSE winds, storm surge on western side of Dauphin Island in #TropicalStormGordon
— Reed Timmer (@ReedTimmerAccu) September 5, 2018
Though Tropical Storm Gordon never strengthened into a hurricane, it killed a child on Tuesday in Escambia County, Florida, when it pushed a tree over onto a mobile home.
Tornados and heavy rain leading to flash flooding are likely in the seven states covered in the emergency declaration. Flash flooding could also occur as far north as Iowa as a result of Tropical Storm Gordon.