Please note this blog has been updated with more current information at:

UPDATED, May 13, 2020 — In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on March 13, 2020 issued a nationwide emergency declaration to assist in the expeditious movement of people, equipment and supplies essential to the combat of the disease.

An expanded emergency declaration was issued by the agency on March 18, another emergency declaration was issued on April 8, and an extension of the emergency declaration was issued on May 13.

The FMCSA emergency declaration will remain in effect until the COVID-19 national emergency is determined to be over or until 11:59 PM (Eastern time) on June 14, 2020, whichever comes first.

This is the first time the FMCSA has issued emergency declarations that are nationwide in scope. The declaration provides relief to motor carriers and drivers from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations when those carriers and drivers are providing direct assistance in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. This includes exemption from hours of service (HOS) regulations while providing direct assistance.

Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its drivers related to the immediate restoration of essential services, including medical care and essential supplies of food during a COVID-19 outbreak.

For example, direct assistance covers the transportation of:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
  • 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 the items listed in the three bullets above.
  • Fuel.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine and isolation facilities related to COVID-19.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
  • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.
  • Liquefied gases used in refrigeration or cooling systems.

On the other hand, direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries or mixed loads which have a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

Direct assistance ends when the driver or commercial motor vehicle are dispatched for non-emergency purposes or to another location to begin non-emergency operations. Once direct assistance is over, the motor carrier and driver are again subject to 49 CFR, Parts 390-399, except that a driver who had been providing direct assistance may return empty to the carrier terminal or normal work reporting location. At that time, the driver must be relieved of all duties and receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, eight hours if transporting people. Motor carriers cannot require or allow a fatigued driver to operate a truck.

The FMCSA emergency declaration does not grant relief from controlled substances and alcohol testing requirements, from financial responsibility (insurance) requirements, hazardous materials regulations or commercial motor vehicle size and weight limits or speed limits. Motor carriers or drivers currently under an out-of-service order are not eligible for this emergency relief until that out-of-service order has been removed. If a motor carrier whose driver is operating under the emergency declaration is involved in a crash, the carrier must report the crash to the FMCSA Division Office within 24 hours.

More information, including further updates, are on the FMCSA’s Emergency Declarations, Waivers, Exemptions and Permits website.

See these related PrePass blogs about trucking and COVID-19:

Emergency Truck Driving: Safely Navigating Out-of-the-Ordinary Travel

Trucking Fleet Finds New Life after Losing Most of its Business to COVID-19

Feds Issue COVID-19 Guidance, Give Relief on Trucking Regulations

Resources for Trucking-related Coronavirus and COVID-19 Information

New Data Shows Critical Truck Deliveries Continue Despite COVID-19

A Message from PrePass Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)