The FMCSA Emergency Declaration for Employers in Trucking

On March 13, 2020, the FMCSA has announced the Emergency Declaration Under 49 CFR & 390.23 No.2020-002. This declaration warrants an exemption from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), except as otherwise restricted by the Emergency Declaration.

The Emergency Declaration comes as a direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak and their effects on the country and its population. Its purpose is to create some leeway for those who transport essential supplies, equipment and persons, as well as the transportation of these goods in general.

Who Is Affected by the Emergency Declaration?

The Emergency Declaration will provide regulatory relief for CMV operations that are providing direct assistance in the transport of essentials, including operations that transport:

  1. Medical supplies and equipment connected with testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19’
  2. Supplies and equipment that help with community safety, sanitation, and prevention of further transmission of the virus, like masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, soap, and disinfectants;
  3. Food with the purpose of emergency restocking of stores;
  4. Equipment, supplies, and persons that are essential to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to the virus
  5. Persons who are involved and are designated by Federal, State, or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes;
  6. Persons who provide essential medical and/or emergency services that may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

It is important to note that the Emergency Declaration does not include routine deliveries. It also does not include mixed transportation of essential goods along with non-essential (i.e. goods that are not transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to the virus.)

When Is Direct Assistance Terminated?

According to the Emergency Declaration, “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 COVID-19 outbreaks or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.”

In some cases, drivers are still exempt from Parts 390 through 399, and that is when the driver is to return empty to the carrier’s terminal or normal work reporting location. Other than in the case above, the driver is immediately subject to the requirements of 49 CFR parts 390 through 399. Normal hours-of-work still apply here, and the driver is to rest 10 hours after they get back to the carrier’s terminal or normal work reporting location. Alternatively, the driver can inform the carrier that they need immediate rest and take the 10-hour rest immediately.

Extension and Expansion of the Emergency Declaration (April 8, 2020)

The April 8, 2020 extension of the Emergency Declaration focuses on covering liquefied gasses that are to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems and to extend the original Emergency Declaration to last to April 12,2020. 

Here is the full expansion of the Declaration, which at this point includes the following: transportation of:

  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 the virus, including masks, gloves, soap and disinfectants, and hand sanitizer
  3. Food, paper products, and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers of stores
  4. Immediate precursor raw materials – such as paper, plastic or alcohol – that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items in categories under 1, 2, or 3
  5. Fuel
  6. Liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems
  7. Equipment, supplies, and persons that are essential to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to the virus
  8. Persons who are involved and are designated by Federal, State, or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes;
  9. Persons who provide essential medical and/or emergency services that may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

An important note with this extension is the following: “Motor carriers shall not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle. A driver who informs a carrier that he/she needs immediate rest shall be given at least ten consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.”

Extension and Expansion of the Emergency Declaration (May 13, 2020)

The May 13, 2020 Extension and Expansion of the Emergency Declaration focuses on extending the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs through June 14, 2020.

Other Expansions of the Emergency Declaration

Since the introduction of the FMCSA Emergency Declaration, there have been multiple expansions and extensions of the HOS waiver:

Final Note

This post will follow any updates on the Emergency Declaration and will be amended should such changes happen.

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