The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has opted to extend an expiring emergency declaration providing regulatory relief for drivers hauling certain supplies during the pandemic.
On February 26, 2022, the FMCSA issued an extension through May 31, 2022, for an Emergency Declaration to provide relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), which includes Hours of Service requirements, for drivers who are providing direct assistance during the pandemic.
The previous extension was issued on November 29, 2021, and was set to expire on February 28, 2022.
The FMCSA says that the extension was issued in spite of the fact that COVID-19 cases are on the decline because “persistent issues arising out of COVID-19 continue to affect the U.S. including impacts on supply chains and the need to ensure capacity to respond to variants and potential rises in infections. Therefore, a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains.”
The waiver extension applies to truck drivers who are hauling the following supplies in direct support of COVID-19 relief efforts:
- Livestock and livestock feed
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
- Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention 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 disinfectant
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores
- Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol
- Supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., building materials for individuals displaced or otherwise impacted as a result of the emergency)
The FMCSA also reiterated that the HOS waiver does not give motor carriers the right to compel fatigued drivers to operate. Any driver who informs a motor carrier that they need rest is to be given 10 hours before they are required to return to duty.
Motor carriers that voluntarily operate under the terms of this extension are required to report to the FMCSA within 5 days after the end of each month. To report, motor carriers will access their portal account at https://portal.fmcsa.dot.gov/login, log-in with their FMCSA portal credentials, and access the Emergency Declaration Reporting under the Available FMCSA Systems section of the page.
Drivers operating under the waiver must still adhere to controlled substance and alcohol uses and testing requirements, the commercial driver’s license requirements, the hazardous material safety permit requirements, the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements, the hazardous material regulations, and vehicle size, length, width, and weight limitations, as well as route designations.
The original FMCSA emergency waiver was issued in March 2020 under the Trump administration and has since been extended and modified several times throughout the pandemic.