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Breaking: FMCSA expands HOS waiver to include COVID-19 vaccine transport

Exemption for carriers providing emergency relief extended through February 2021

Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is expanding its emergency hours-of-service (HOS) waiver to include carriers transporting COVID-19 vaccines.

In a notice issued late Tuesday, the FMCSA also announced it is modifying the most recent extension of the HOS waiver — which had been scheduled to expire on Dec. 31 — to expire instead on Feb. 28, 2021, unless the COVID-19 national emergency is revoked sooner.

“This expansion and extension of the modified Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, and provides necessary relief from the [regulations] for motor carriers and drivers,” today’s notice states.

The exemption continues to cover parts 390 to 399 of the federal motor carrier regulations for the 50 states and District of Columbia which, in addition to HOS, include inspection and maintenance of commercial vehicles, employee safety, and parking rules. Details can be viewed here.

The current exemption provides regulatory relief limited to the transportation of:

  1. Livestock and livestock feed.
  2. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
  3. Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19.
  4. 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.
  5. Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.

As with all previous HOS waivers in response to the pandemic, 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 this emergency declaration,” FMCSA stated.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.