Hours of Service Regulations Suspended for Commercial Motor Vehicles Providing Emergency Relief to Combat COVID-19
In response to President Trump issuing a national emergency declaration on Friday, March 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration that suspended hours of service (HOS) regulations for operators of commercial motor vehicles that are providing emergency relief through direct assistance to support state and local efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. The emergency declaration was expanded on March 18 to include additional definitions of “direct assistance.” According to FMCSA officials, this declaration is the first time that FMCSA has issued nation-wide hours of service relief. The emergency declaration specifically suspends parts 390-399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (of which HOS is part 395) and is active until April 12 or the termination of the emergency, whichever comes first.
FMCSA’s definition of “direct assistance” refers to commercial motor vehicle operations which are needed 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.
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
- Immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
- Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
- Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
- Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.
This declaration does not exempt routine commercial deliveries or mixed loads that may include relief supplies. FMCSA has stated, “There are not specific requirements to identify a vehicle operating under an emergency declaration or for paperwork that must be carried on the vehicle. However, drivers should be prepared to explain to law enforcement officers how their shipment qualifies under the emergency provisions.”
The declaration also 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.”
Because the current COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented situation there are many questions about how this emergency declaration might apply to NAW members. We are continuing to work with Federal officials to get clarification on these questions while we monitor the COVID-19 situation, how it is impacting wholesaler-distributors, and how we can provide service for our members in these trying times. NAW staff is in contact with FMCSA to get clarification guidance on maintaining the flow of commerce across the nation, especially into areas experiencing lockdowns and shelter in place orders. We are also working with our allies on Capitol Hill, who have offered any assistance needed to help NAW member companies get their products delivered.
Additionally, we are in close contact with the White House and the COVID-19 Task Force headed by Vice President Pence. Yesterday, NAW organized a conference call between President Trump, Vice President Pence, NAW leadership, several NAW member company executives, and other organizations within the nation’s supply chain. The purpose of this call with the White House was to ensure that any national response to the COVID-19 outbreak does not impede the distribution supply chain for the critical supplies that NAW member companies deliver. The White House pledged to work with NAW to ensure that wholesaler-distributors have the resources needed to get vital goods where they are needed.
Click here to read FMCSA’s emergency declaration.