At 4:05 pm, Friday, March 13th, the ATA announced that the FMCSA will be temporarily suspending hours of service (HOS) regulations for operations engaged in emergency relief related to COVID-19. The ATA clarified that motor carriers and drivers will “remain responsible for ensuring that drivers are receiving sufficient rest and are not operating fatigued.”
Why Is This Happening?
President Trump declared a “national emergency” in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Trump claimed this could free up $50 billion to help fight the pandemic and said that he was empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive certain laws and regulations to ensure the virus can be contained and patients treated. This has a big implication for the transportation industry:
The FEMA Tender of Service Program allows FEMA to schedule and book transportation with pre-approved private sector Transportation Service Providers (TSPs). In order to help with distribution of testing kits, medical supplies, and personal protective equipment, fleets could be contracted by the federal government to help transport these goods to necessary locations.
We have no information at this time regarding if or when this power will be activated. In the meantime, fleets should take care to stay safe and follow all CDC-prescribed coronavirus precautions.
UPDATE: New Info From FMCSA (3/18/2020)
The FMCSA has released new details on how the HOS suspension will be implemented. You can read the full statement by clicking the link below. As a summary, drivers who are engaged in transportation and other relief services related to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies (such as food and fuel) associated with COVID-19 outbreaks during the emergency are covered under this order. Essential services and supplies are categorized as:
- Medical supplies
- Supplies and equipment necessary for prevention of community transmission (gloves, hand sanitizer, etc)
- Food, paper products, and other groceries
- Raw materials that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items in categories (1), (2), or (3)
- Equipment, supplies, and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, or isolation facilities
- Persons designated by Federal, State, or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes
- Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services
Read the full statement: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/expanded-emergency-declaration-under-49-cfr-ss-39023-no-2020-002
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