FMCSA temporarily suspends regulations for drivers as California fires continue

The FMCSA announced Oct. 28 that it would be temporarily suspending certain regulations for drivers providing essential services and supplies to regions that are affected by the California fires.

“Such Emergency Declaration is in response to widespread wildfires and extreme weather including unprecedented high winds, in the State of California, and their effects on people and property, including the immediate threat to human life or public welfare.” says the FMCSA declaration. 

One major regulation that was suspended was hours of service for drivers who are “engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort” in California. 

According to the FMCSA, drivers are not required to log their on-duty hours while providing relief, but once the driver is finished assisting, they must total the number of hours they worked while providing direct assistance to the emergency relief effort.

Drivers considered to be assisting in the emergency should be performing one or all of the following: transporting supplies, goods, equipment, fuel, and people into the State of California. 

The FMCSA has stressed that the exemptions do not exempt drivers/carriers from requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size/weight, or state/federal registration and tax requirements. 

Additionally, the FMCSA noted that motor carriers or drivers who are currently out-of-service are not eligible to help with the relief effort. 

The declaration shall also remain effective for the duration of the emergency or until Nov. 27, 2019. Nonetheless, drivers should note that direct assistance terminates when a driver is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or when a driver is dispatched to begin operations in commerce. 

As strong winds continue in California, wildfires have rapidly spread throughout the state. According to CNN, at least 14 wildfires are currently burning throughout California, which has burned a cumulative 113,000 acres.

For more information on the FMCA’s emergency declaration, you can go here. 

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