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BREAKING: FMCSA likely to grant Hours of Service waiver for all of the US

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

An emergency proclamation suspending an undefined part of the Hours of Service (HOS) rules through the entire U.S. is expected to be granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). 

The federal waiver will come as HOS rules were falling over the past two days within a number of states where supply chains are straining under the demands to restock medical and consumer goods that are rapidly being depleted. The waivers on the state level were wide-ranging and across the country. Waivers in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina and Virginia were confirmed by FreightWaves. A request was confirmed in Nevada.

“We understand that FMCSA will be issuing an emergency proclamation suspending federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for operations engaged in emergency relief related to COVID-19,” ATA vice president for safety policy Dan Horvath said in a note to its members. “We expect FMCSA to post the specific criteria of this proclamation on their website, including clarifying information about the types of loads and work covered.”

That note was the second one of the day sent by ATA. Not long before that, the ATA had said in a note that FMCSA had issued the rule suspending HOS for interstate operations. But that was quickly preempted by a second note saying that such a rule was expected rather than issued.

FMCSA was not immediately available for comment. But in the note, Horvath said carriers and drivers “remain responsible for ensuring that drivers are receiving sufficient rest and are not operating fatigued.”

The waiver on the federal level and in the states comes as capacity is tightening and demand for trucking is soaring, as shown in the Outbound Tender Volume Index from SONAR. Demand for simple goods like toilet paper all the way up to sophisticated products like medical devices is straining the trucking sector. 

An official with one state trucking association noted that its state’s limitations on what it could carry did include medical equipment and consumer goods. That would cover a lot, but presumably wouldn’t apply to something like a flatbed hauling industrial equipment. Whether the definition of “emergency relief” in the FMCSA rule is narrow or broad will need to be determined by the specifics in the waiver.

As Paul Enos, president of the Nevada Trucking Association said in his letter requesting a waiver from the governor of Nevada: “One carrier who delivers dry goods to a major grocery store chain in southern Nevada, Utah and northern Arizona has seen a 20% increase this week. Retailers have gone through a month and half of inventory in four days.”

Enos cited rising detention times as a key reason for a waiver to be needed. Citing SONAR data, Enos told FreightWaves that detention times “are close to their highest annual levels” as trucks encounter docks operating at capacity to resupply medical and consumer supply chains.


  1. Samuel E Bowen

    Oh, I see, after the past few years of finding a way to screw the truck drivers of this country with BS regulations and the ELD mandate because the state and local governments don’t trust us, your gonna what? Waive the HOS hrs so we can run the same amount of hrs everyday that we always do without the ELD mandate. I’m always there to help fellow Americans in need but stop with this political BS.

  2. Tom Oswald, Safety Director

    Now would be a great time to push back against these crazy regulations guys! Amazing how the regs are ok when they don’t affect them! But when everyone is in “panic” mode, you can keep going as long as you “remain responsible for ensuring that drivers are receiving sufficient rest and are not operating fatigued”. If they can allow everyone to make that decision for 4-6 weeks, they can allow them to ALWAYS make that decision. It would take 24-48hrs at home to get regulations permanently changed. Another thing, the harder you run in the next few weeks, the less you will run in 2-3 months from now. The folks stocking up for “dooms day” won’t need products for a while. The industry should be smart about this. They are only waiving a little money your way NOW. As Denzel said in Equalizer 2, “its short money”.

  3. Wesley Huffey

    Well if I’m 30 minutes from home and have to sit 10 hours just to get home now on eld’s. They can go get stuffed. Anybody that drives now over hours is a fool.

  4. ThaGearJammer25/8

    Safety is our number one priority!

    Little do they know it’s always a pandemic: at the Truckstop around 18:30. The fuel island @ 07:00. Every hour of every day at delivery and pickup that take way to long.. at least a guy can relax a bit during emergency response.

  5. Jeff Clark

    Really? They want everyone else to work from home to keep from getting the virus. Truck drivers? They want us to work over 70 hours per week and weaken our immune system. Thanks. That’s it! I am running for FMCSA CHIEF!

    1. Debra Wolcott

      Really I agree that’s some truth, they must put the truckers right up there in the same category as doctors and nurses, essential people that must work. Just think if you get sick you just might be able to apply to the government for your lost wages and truck payments.

Comments are closed.

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.