FMCSA Extends and Expands Emergency Hours of Service Waiver

Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is both extending and expanding its historic hours of service (HOS) exemption for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators and carriers engaged in direct relief assistance to the COVID-19 national emergency.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the Agency said it was extending the unprecedented regulatory waiver through May 15, 2020, and further expanding the relief to cover the transportation of liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems.


“This extension of the Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons,” the notice states.

Specifically, the Emergency Declaration provides regulatory relief for CMV operations transporting:

(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 certain items designated by the FMCSA;

(5) fuel;

(6) liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems;

(7) equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;

(8) persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and

(9) persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.


Once again, the Agency made clear the waiver only applies to those engaged in direct assistance which does NOT include “routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”


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Further, direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are NOT in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.


Moreover, the Emergency Declaration stipulates that once a driver engaging in “direct assistance” 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.

FMCSRs pertaining to the controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements, the commercial driver’s license requirements, the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements, the hazardous material regulations, applicable size and weight requirements, and any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted in the Emergency Declaration are still in effect, the Agency says.

The FMCSA issued its first Emergency Declaration on March 13, in response to President Trump declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency.


The Agency then expanded the waiver on March 18, to include raw materials and fuel.

In addition to HOS relief, the FMCSA has eased a host of regulations involving commercial driver’s license (CDL) training and testing requirements; CDL renewals, and medical card renewals.

Read the full waiver HERE.

For all the latest FMCSA news, click HERE.



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