The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service (HOS) regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This declaration is believed to be the first time the agency has issued nationwide relief and follows President Trump’s issuing of a national emergency declaration in response to the virus.
“This declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently,” says Jim Mullen, FMCSA’s acting administrator. The agency will continue to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and is prepared to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the nation, Mullen added.
FMCSA’s 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—including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants—necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
● Food for emergency restocking of stores.
● Equipment, supplies and 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.
To ensure continue safety on the nation’s roadways, the emergency declaration stipulates that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.