The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that they will be extending truck drivers’ HOS exemption for emergency relief supplies until at least the end of the calendar year.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival in the U.S., FMCSA suspended hours of service regulations as part of an expanded emergency declaration. To help combat the national emergency declared by the president, truck drivers hauling supplies related to recovery efforts would be exempted from all HOS requirements for the duration of their qualifying load.
This is common following natural disasters and other emergencies, but this exemption covers a lot more than normal. Medical supplies, personal protective equipment (ppe), food, groceries, and precursor materials for all of the above.
The exemption has also lasted for much longer than normal. So far it has been extended only one month at a time. Apparently the FMCSA has finally admitted that the circumstances aren’t going to change any time soon, and have now extended the HOS exemption through the end of the year. It is still worded in a way that it will end earlier if the president declares an end to the national emergency.
Truckers are exempt from HOS rules while they are hauling loads containing:
- 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 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 items in categories (1), (2) or (3);
As usual, loads are not exempt when they are part of routine deliveries or when they contain only a small amount of qualifying items included to benefit from the exemption.