FMCSA suspends hours of service regulations for COVID-19 efforts

The FMCSA announced on March 18 that it would be temporarily suspending certain regulations for drivers providing essential services and supplies for regions affected by COVID-19.

“Such emergency is in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks and their effects on people and the immediate risk they present to public health, safety, and welfare…,” reads the FMCSA declaration. 

One major regulation that was suspended was hours of service for drivers who are “engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment, and persons.”

Additionally, those who are not involved with the relief effort should make sure to continue logging their hours with an ELD. Because the HOS suspension only applies to a select few in the industry, drivers should make sure to continue to follow ELD Mandate and HOS regulations, as they could be at risk of receiving violations from DOT officers. 

To find out if you’re part of the effort, please consult with your carrier and the FMCSA’s guidelines.

For reference, here is a list of what the FMCSA considers essential:

  1. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19
  2. 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
  3. food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores
  4. Immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic, or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items in categories 1,2, or 3.
  5. Fuel
  6. equipment , supplies, and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19
  7. Persons designated by Federal, State, or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes
  8. Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

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

If a trucker feels as if they need immediate rest, they must be permitted at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before a driver is required to return. 

The FMCSA has also 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.

The declaration shall also remain effective for the duration of the emergency or until April 12, 2020. Nonetheless, truckers should also 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. 

You can go here to see the full declaration released by the FMCSA. 

As of March 31, according to the Worldometer, there are over 800,000 cases worldwide and over 170,000 in the United States alone.

Consequently, it’s important to take precautions in an attempt to avoid contracting the coronavirus. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is mainly spread between person-to-person, meaning that close contact with others puts you at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

It’s important to take precautions during this time, which includes cleaning hands often and maintaining distance from other people. For additional resources from the CDC, you can go here

So, what are your thoughts on the virus and the relief effort? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

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