The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency in the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), recently extended and expanded a declaration of national emergency to provide regulatory relief from hours-of-service requirements to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers delivering vaccines and other emergency supplies needed to help combat the national coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis (U.S. Department of Transportation Takes Action to Assist America’s Truckers in the Efficient and Safe Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines).
“America’s truck drivers have been heroes in keeping this nation’s supply chains open and are now on the front lines of this historic effort to safely deliver the COVID-19 vaccine,” United States Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.
“Under Secretary Chao’s leadership, FMCSA is helping lead the way to allow for an efficient and effective distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccines,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck said. “The Agency is continuing to provide additional regulatory relief to our nation’s truckers to get critically important medical supplies, food, and household goods to Americans in need. We will continue to support them and help protect the health and safety of the American people.”
The expanded and extended declaration issued by FMCSA provides regulatory relief to CMV operations offering direct assistance to support the transportation of emergency relief goods, including:
- Vaccines and medical equipment, including ancillary supplies for the administration of vaccines related to the prevention of COVID-19.
- Medical supplies related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
- Supplies necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectants.
- Livestock and livestock feed.
- Food and other grocery products for restocking of distribution centers or stores.
The declaration specifies that “direct assistance” does not include routine commercial deliveries, particularly mixed loads with some nominal amount of qualifying emergency relief added solely for the purpose of obtaining the declaration’s benefits. As an added safety measure, the declaration requires drivers returning to normal operations from emergency relief efforts to receive 10 hours off duty if their total driving time from both exceeds 14 hours.
FMCSA has done its part to support the trucking industry and protect American supply chains in the face of this devastating pandemic. Hopefully trucking companies will return the favor and enact their own policies that ensure the safety of their drivers and the American public instead of continuing to pursue profits at the expense of safety.
If you have been injured in a traffic accident with a large truck or commercial motor vehicle, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.