The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the United States Department of Transportation, recently announced the decision to expand hours-of-service regulatory relief granted to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers transporting emergency supplies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the country (US Department of Transportation Expands National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles Delivering Relief in Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak).
“Under Secretary 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. 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 Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said.
The expanded emergency declaration authorizes an exception to regulatory requirements for CMV operations that are contributing direct assistance by providing transportation in support of emergency relief efforts designed to satisfy the urgent need across America for the following:
- Medical supplies and equipment for the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19.
- Supplies and equipment needed for safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants.
- Food, paper products, and groceries for restocking of distribution centers or stores.
- Raw materials, including paper, plastic, and alcohol, that are required for the manufacture of essential items.
- Equipment, supplies, and people required to establish and manage temporary housing and quarantines.
- People designated by governmental authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
- People needed to provide other medical or emergency services.
Routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads of regular goods and goods added in order to qualify for emergency relief, do not constitute “direct assistance” under the declaration. Although not subject to the normal hours-of-service rules, to ensure the continued safety of our nation’s roadways, the driver must receive a minimum of ten hours off duty if transporting property and eight hours if transporting passengers after he or she has completed the emergency delivery.
The emergency declaration is the first time FMCSA has issued nation-wide emergency regulatory relief. The effort is certainly welcome because we all must work together to keep Americans safe, but it also calls attention to the lack of effort by our government to prevent the tens of thousands of deaths every year on American roadways.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, 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.