FMCSA changes emergency exemption regulations

January 3, 2024 By    

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule that revised its emergency exemptions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance following declarations of emergency.

The final rule, which was published in October and took effect Dec. 12, narrows the scope of safety regulations from which relief is automatically provided for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in an emergency.

FMCSA says the rule ensures that the relief granted through emergency declarations is appropriate and tailored to the specifics of the circumstances and emergencies being addressed.

The rule also revises the process for extending automatic emergency regulatory relief where circumstances warrant and allows for potential reporting requirements when FMCSA issues an extension or modification.

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and Suburban Propane were among the parties soliciting comments on the proposed rule.

In the proposed rulemaking, according to NPGA, FMCSA sought to limit the duration of regional waivers from 30 days to five days. NPGA submitted a comprehensive comment on the rule, and in the final rule, FMCSA set the duration of regional waivers at 14 days, subject to extension. This duration is consistent with the 48-state waiver NPGA secured during the winter of 2022-23, the association notes.

FMCSA also stated that it could issue a waiver in advance of an emergency when the emergency could be “reliably predicted.”

In November 2023, NPGA and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association petitioned the FMCSA to reconsider the final rule and stay the effective date during the consideration of their petition. The trade groups say FMCSA has failed to provide sufficient evidence and explanation to support its departures from longstanding regulatory standards and has created significant ambiguities relating to pre-disaster emergency declarations.

By late December, FMCSA had yet to respond to the groups’ petition, says Benjamin Nussdorf, vice president of regulatory and industry affairs at NPGA, adding that NPGA and its coalition partners continue to work with FMCSA to clarify the effects of the final rule.

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About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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