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UPDATED: FMCSA expands hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicles in response to coronavirus

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David Sickels is the Associate Editor of Tire Review and Fleet Equipment magazines. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

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

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This declaration is the first time FMCSA has issued nation-wide relief and follows President Trump issuing a national emergency declaration in response to the virus.

FMCSA’s expanded declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  • 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.
  • Equipment, paper products, food and other groceries for emergency restocking of 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.
  • Persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
  • Personnel to provide medical or other 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.

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To ensure continue safety on the nation’s roadways, the emergency declaration stipulates that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the drive must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.

To read FMCSA’s national emergency declaration, visit: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002.

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