The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responding to the COVID-19 variants and to supply chain challenges by again extending its emergency declaration. The updated emergency declaration now runs through Aug. 31, 2022. The prior emergency declaration expired on May 31, 2022.
Like the previous version of the COVID-19 emergency declaration this updated FMCSA response grants motor carriers and truck drivers relief only from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Part 395.3, the maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles, with certain restrictions.
The updated emergency declaration continues to include the transportation of supplies that FMCSA deems “essential”:
- Livestock and livestock feed.
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
- Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment, including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention 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
- Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethyl alcohol, and heating fuel, including propane, natural gas, and heating oil.
- Supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as building materials for individuals displaced or otherwise impacted as a result of the emergency.
Most recently, FMCSA clarified that the transportation of the fuels listed included “propane, natural gas, and heating oil.” FMCSA adjusted its frequently asked questions to state that the agency has determined that “the production and transport of these fuels is significantly impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 National Emergency.” That means there is no requirement for a motor carrier to demonstrate that it is hauling the fuel commodities to support specific COVID-19 relief efforts.
By contrast, FMCSA is limiting the hours of service (HOS) waiver allowed under the emergency declaration for the transportation of the other, non-fuel, “essential supplies” listed to the “direct assistance” of COVID-19 relief efforts. By definition, “direct assistance” does not include non-emergency transportation of qualifying commodities or routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration.
In a separate emergency declaration, FMCSA is also allowing a maximum driving time HOS waiver for motor carriers and drivers transporting baby formula, and the ingredients for the production of baby formula, including but not limited to whey, casein, corn syrup, and hydrolyzed protein, and containers and packaging for baby formula. The baby formula emergency declaration runs through June 30, 2022. The HOS waiver for the transportation of baby formula and its ingredients is limited to “direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts,” in this case particularly to baby formula manufacturers.
FMCSA underscores that motor carriers must not require or allow fatigued drivers to continue to operate, even if an HOS waiver is available under this emergency declaration. A truck driver informing a carrier that he/she needs rest must be allowed at least ten consecutive hours off duty.
Motor carriers and drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by these waivers.
FMCSA continues to require motor carriers operating under any emergency declaration to report, within five days after the end of each month, their reliance on it.
Motor carriers can access their own portal account at https://portal.fmcsa.dot.gov/login. Once logged in, go to “Emergency Declaration Reporting” under the “Available FMCSA Systems” section of that page.