The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a nationwide Hours of Service (HOS) waiver for motor carriers hauling relief supplies for Coronavirus/COVID-19.
The FMCSA made the declaration shortly after President Trump declared a nationwide state of emergency over the Coronavirus outbreak on Friday, March 13.
The emergency waiver suspends HOS regulations in all 50 state and Washington D.C. for drivers who are directly providing relief supplies for the Coronavirus outbreak:
By execution of this Emergency Declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, except as restricted herein. Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services, such as medical care, or essential supplies such as food, related to COVID-19 outbreaks during the emergency..
FMCSA clarified the meaning of providing direct assistance for emergency relief:
This Emergency Declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations that are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transportation to meet immediate needs for: (1) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; (2) 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; (3) food for emergency restocking of stores; (4) equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19; (5) persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and (6) persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response. Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, or transportation of mixed loads that include essential supplies, equipment and persons, along with supplies, equipment and persons that are not being transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks. 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.
The federal HOS suspension does not alter a motor carrier’s duty to monitor its drivers, maintain records of duty status, and ensure drivers are not ill, fatigued, impaired, or otherwise unable to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely. Drivers are still required to comply with licensing requirements, drug and alcohol use and testing requirements, and insurance requirements.
Multiple reports from media outlets nationwide have shown empty shelves as panicked consumers swarm grocery stores to stock up on food, medicine, and other essentials in preparation for a possible quarantine.
As of Saturday afternoon, more than 2,345 people tested positive for the Coronavirus in the U.S.
Please click here to view the full emergency declaration.