Coronavirus: What Happens To Trucking When States and Federal Declare Emergency
Written By Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
FMCSA waives HOS nationwide for COVID 19-related movement
— Updated 3/18/2020 —
For the first time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a 50-state waiver to the Hours of Service Rule for commercial vehicle drivers transporting goods related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The order was issued late Friday evening and had been foretold earlier in the day, on the back of numerous state waivers for intrastate transportation. It will last until the end of the day on April 12 or until the end of the emergency declared Friday by President Trump, whichever is sooner.
On Wednesday 3/18/2020, FMCSA issued an expanded national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
FMCSA’s expanded 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 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.
- – Fuel.
- – 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.
The expanded declaration stipulates that direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration.
Drivers are not exempt from requirements relating to commercial driver licenses, drugs and alcohol, hazardous materials, size, weight and registration requirements. Also, motor carriers who are currently subject to an out-of-service notice are not eligible for the relief.
Other exemptions to HOS will cover the following, according to FMCSA:
–Three types of “persons”: those “necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19”; those “designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes”; and “personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.”
Although there is no limit on the hours of service driving the truck, the FMCSA order does say that when a driver has completed a delivery, he or she must receive 10 hours of off duty if delivering goods and eight hours if transporting passengers.
One other provision: if a driver has completed COVID-19 relief work, but then is returning empty to his or her base, they can do so without violating federal rules.
Read our Article: How Truckers Can Stay Awake When Driving During A State Of Emergency
The exemption is aimed specifically at the Hours of Service rule that can be found in parts 390 through 399 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Oregon DOT provides further clarification during state of emergency
In accordance with the emergency declaration issued by Gov. Brown on March 8, 2020, ODOT has issued furthered guidance on what this means for motor carriers traveling in and through the state of Oregon to provide disaster assistance as it relates to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The following commercial motor vehicle requirements were suspended as of March 16, 2020:
- ORS 818.400 Enforcement of size and weight permits
- ORS825.100 Requirements for certificate or permit authority for commercial transportation of person of property
- ORS 825.104 Registration for-hire or private carrier engaged in interstate operations
- ORS 25.160 Enforcement of the requirement for person operating as a motor carrier to have policy of public liability and property damage insurance
- ORS 825.162 Enforcement of the requirement for person operating as fore-hire carrier of freight of express to have cargo insurance
- ORS 825.450 Tax Enrollment with the Department of Transportation
- ORS 825.470 Temporary Pass for single trip or short time operation of vehicle
- ORS 826.031 Registration of certain vehicles not already registered with the state
- ORS 825.252 Hours of Service safety regulations as stipulated below and in accordance with the federal declaration of emergency issued by FMCSA on March 13, 2020.
These suspension are in effect until the state of emergency is terminated as provided under ORS 401.204. They apply to anyone transporting person or property necessary for, responding to, and mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The suspensions do not apply to any requirement not specifically listed in the notice. Operators are responsible and liable for safely routing their vehicles and obtaining current information concerning hazardous road conditions prior to movement.
Read the full letter from ODOT for additional details about operating under these suspensions, required documentation and more.
Fleets Staying Busy During Emergency
Truck drivers in high demand as stores in Oregon work to replenish stock. One of our clients address the state of trucking in Oregon.
“We’re operating at full clip right now,” said Nick Campos, the Chief Operating Officer for Market Express.
Campos says most grocers are up 150% right now, month over month, as people stock up on all sorts of things with the spread of COVID-19.
Statewide Declarations of Emergency for COVID-19
Description: State 0f Washington DOE 20-20: Proclamation by the Governor Amending Proclamations 20-05 & 20-06
Effective: 03/11/2020 | Expires on: shall remain in effect until midnight on March 31, 2020 , unless extended beyond that date.
Motor carriers and drivers of commercial motor vehicles collecting or delivering essential food and emergency supplies in Washington State for the following purposes are providing emergency relief during an emergency under 49 CFR § 390.23 and, therefore, are exempt from application of the driver hours of service rules in 49 CFR § 395, adopted
pursuant to RCW 46.32.020 and WAC 446-65-010, until midnight on April 17, 2020:
1. – Grocery purposes, including but not limited to pet food and supplies;
2. – Medical supplies and equipment;
3. – Pharmaceuticals; or
4. – Petroleum fuels, other liquid fuels, natural or synthetic fuel gas, solid carbonaceous fuels, and electricity and natural gas system equipment components, including but not limited to, fissionable nuclear material.
FURTHERMORE, under the provisions of RCW 43.06.220(1)(h), to preserve and maintain life, health, property or public peace, I also hereby impose temporary restrictions on motor carriers and drivers of commercial motor vehicles identified above as being exempt from application of the driver hours of service rules in Washington State by prohibiting application of this exemption as follows:
1. – Motor carriers are prohibited from operating under the terms of this exemption if either of the
following conditions exist:
a. They have an out-of-service order in effect; or
b. They do not possess a current safety rating of “Satisfactory” or better assigned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the state in which the motor carrier has its principal place of business.
2. – Motor carriers I have not prohibited from operating under the terms of this exemption are prohibited from:
a. Requiring or permitting a fatigued or ill driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle; and
b. Requiring or permitting a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle after the driver has informed the carrier (verbally or in writing) that he or she needs immediate rest, unless the driver has first received at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty documented in writing by the motor carrier; and
c. Requiring or permitting a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle after the driver has been on duty for more than 96 hours in any eight consecutive days, unless the driver has first received at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty documented in writing by the motor carrier.
I ask the motor carriers for the above-listed purposes to use their best judgment in operating under this exemption in a manner that ensures public health and safety. Drivers operating under this exemption should
carry a copy of this Proclamation.
To provide vital supplies and transportation services to a disaster area in the United States, emergency declarations may be issued by the President, Governors of States, or FMCSA. These declarations trigger the temporary suspension of certain Federal safety regulations, including Hours of Service, for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort. See 49 CFR 390.23 for the actual emergency regulation.
Relief from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is limited to a maximum of 30 days, unless extended by FMCSA itself.
The information below reflects currently available relief:
- Drivers responding to provide “direct assistance” to an “emergency” meeting the definitions in 49 CFR 390.5 and declared by FMCSA or a governor, are exempt from applicable regulations in all States on their route to the emergency, even though those States may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.
- These exemptions, when in effect, only apply to 49 CFR Parts 390-399. They do NOT exempt drivers/carriers from the requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size & weight, or State/Federal registration and tax requirements. (However, a Governor’s Declaration may add some of those exemptions – read the declaration for details.)
- Even if an Emergency Declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be on-going and you must be providing direct emergency assistance in order to be exempt from safety regulations.
- The list of Emergency Declarations below may not be complete. Declarations may be in effect even if not listed here. Read the declaration itself for all details.
- There is no requirement to carry a copy of the declaration in the vehicle unless stated so in the declaration itself.
- Drivers and carriers should coordinate with State emergency officials before providing assistance. State regulations regarding size and weight, permits, taxes, etc. may not have been waived.
- Even though safety regulations may be suspended, drivers and carriers are expected to use good judgment and not operate vehicles with fatigued or ill drivers, or under any conditions presenting a clear hazard to other motorists using the highways.
General Emergency FAQs
How do State and Federal Declarations of Emergency affect motor carrier operations?
When an official governmental Declaration of Emergency is issued for a type of major emergency, motor carriers and operators of commercial motor vehicles that are providing emergency relief through direct assistance to support State and local efforts to save lives or property or to protect public health or safety, are relieved from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations listed in 49 CFR Parts 390-399. (The italicized words are defined in 49 CFR 390.5.)
Even though safety regulations may be suspended, drivers and carriers are expected to use good judgment and not to operate vehicles when drivers are fatigued or ill, or under any conditions presenting a clear hazard to other motorists using the highways.
What regulations are included in 49 CFR Parts 390-399?
Among the major regulations are those safety rules relating to hours of service, vehicle maintenance and inspection, and general driver qualifications. The complete Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations can be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations.
What safety regulations are NOT exempted by an Emergency Declaration?
Drivers and motor carriers must continue to comply with the Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing requirements (49 CFR part 382), the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirements (49 CFR part 383), the Minimum Levels of Financial Responsibility requirements (49 CFR part 387), and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR parts 100-185).
What other regulations are NOT exempted by a Declaration of Emergency?
Declarations of emergency that trigger the provisions of 49 CFR 390.23 do not exempt motor carriers or drivers from requirements relating to license plates, taxes, oversize-overweight rules, or “for hire” Federal or State registration requirements. However, individual governors’ declarations may provide for exemptions from State laws or regulations.
Additionally, motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the exemption until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded by FMCSA.
Where do the emergency exemptions apply?
Drivers responding to provide direct assistance to a declared emergency are exempt from applicable regulations in all States on their route to the emergency, even though those States may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.
How do I know what emergency declarations are in effect at any given time?
The FMCSA makes every attempt to list known declarations of emergency on its website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency. Regional emergency exemptions based on 49 CFR 390.23 are valid for 30 days or the duration of the carrier’s or driver’s direct assistance, whichever occurs sooner.
What services and supplies are covered by an emergency declaration?
In general, direct assistance includes the immediate restoration of essential services (such as electricity, medical care, sewer, water, telecommunications, and telecommunication transmissions) or essential supplies (such as food and fuel). It is not possible to list what would be essential in each emergency situation.
What would NOT be included in exempt services and supplies in a declared emergency?
The emergency exemption does not include transportation related to long-term rehabilitation of damaged physical infrastructure or routine commercial deliveries after the initial threat to life and property has passed. The services and supplies must be intended to meet immediate needs.
Are motor carriers required to obtain approval from the FMCSA prior to participating in the emergency relief effort?
No. With one exception, any motor carrier providing direct assistance, as defined in the regulations, to the emergency relief effort may participate. However, motor carriers that have an Out-of-Service (OOS) Order must continue to comply with that order during the emergency and are prohibited from providing any transportation of freight or passengers while the order is in effect.
I have a truck that is not normally used commercially and a local charitable group wants me to take donated clothing and supplies to the impacted area. What do I need to know?
Be certain to read all of these FAQs to ensure compliance, and consult your State’s commercial vehicle enforcement officers (usually State Police) if in doubt. It is very strongly recommended that you have a definite trip plan in mind before starting toward the disaster area. In other words, know what materials are needed and desired, exactly where you will deliver them, what routes are open, etc. For most major emergencies, websites are deployed to help provide this type of information.
Am I still exempt while returning empty from delivering an exempt load?
49 CFR 390.23 provides, in part, “…A driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with parts 390 through 399 of this chapter. However, a driver who informs the motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest must be permitted at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before the driver is required to return to such terminal or location. Having returned to the terminal or other location, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibilities. Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo not destined for the emergency relief effort, or when the motor carrier dispatches such driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.”
If you are returning to pick-up another exempt load after delivering one, you remain exempt while running empty to pick-up additional exempt loads.
How do I need to identify my vehicle when providing direct assistance? What paperwork must I carry?
There are no 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.
Do I need to stop at weigh stations when operating under a declared emergency exemption?
Weigh stations are managed by individual States, so requirements to stop vary. Unless advised otherwise, you should assume that normal rules apply even during a declared emergency.
How do I log my time when operating under an emergency exemption?
Since the hours-of-service rules do not apply when operating under declaration of emergency issued under 49 CFR 390.23, you do not have to maintain a record of duty status (log). However, it is recommended that, for future reference, you explain the activity in the log “remarks” section without completing the detailed grid.
Can an emergency declaration be extended?
Yes, under 49 CFR § 390.25 FMCSA may extend the 30-day time period of a regional emergency declaration issued under 49 CFR § 390.23(a)(1) taking into account the severity of the ongoing emergency and the nature of the relief services to be provided. If FMCSA extends an emergency declaration it will establish a new time period and will include any other necessary restrictions.