FMCSA authorizes regulatory relief for commercial drivers responding to COVID-19

March 19, 2020 By    

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expanded a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief, including fuel, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Under Secretary [Elaine] 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,” says FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen. “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.”

FMCSA’s expanded declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations that directly assist emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  • Fuel.
  • 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.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing or 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 expanded declaration stipulates 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.

To ensure continued safety on the nation’s roadways, the emergency declaration stipulates 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 eight hours if transporting passengers.

FMCSA’s emergency declaration is the first time the agency has issued nationwide relief and follows President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in response to the virus.

Read FMCSA’s expanded national emergency declaration here.

Editor’s note: The FMCSA extended the relief through June 14.

*Featured image: kozmoat98/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

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