FMCSA expands HOS waiver for COVID-19 relief haulers

Under new guidelines, fuel and 'paper product' haulers are now exempt from HOS regulations.

On Wednesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced an expanded national emergency declaration to provide regulatory relief for more truckers hauling Coronavirus relief supplies.

The initial HOS waiver issued on March 13 suspended Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (including Hours of Service or HOS regulations) in all 50 states and Washington D.C. for drivers who are directly providing relief supplies for the Coronavirus outbreak. This was the first time in FMCSA history that a nationwide emergency declaration was issued.

The waiver expansion issued on March 18 now covers drivers who are hauling paper products, fuel, and “immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.”

See the full list of products that fall under the expanded HOS waiver below.

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
  • Immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items. 
  • Fuel.
     
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.

The FMCSA clarified that the emergency declaration requires that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers. 

The FMCSA also noted that direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration.

“Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce,” FMCSA explains.

“Under Secretary Chao’s leadership, FMCSA is providing additional regulatory relief to our nation’s commercial drivers to get critically important medical supplies, food, and household goods to Americans in need. The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain. We will continue to support them and use our authority to protect the health and safety of the American people,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.  

Please click here to view the expanded HOS waiver.