Hours-of-service regulations lifted for historic Midwest flooding relief efforts

Flooding in Jefferson, South Dakota, stranded two cars along the highway. Heavy snow melt and rains have caused historic flooding in 16 states including near the MIssouri River, and the FMCSA has lifted certain restrictions as a result. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Flooding in Jefferson, South Dakota, stranded two cars along the highway. Heavy snow melt and rains have caused historic flooding in 16 states including near the MIssouri River, and the FMCSA has lifted certain restrictions as a result. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has exempted truck drivers involved in flood relief efforts in 16 states from certain regulations, including hours-of-service (HOS) compliance.

The regulations involved include Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) Parts 390 through 399. The full list is available on FMCSA’s website. The agency made the declaration under provision 49 CFR § 390.23 and it affects Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Only drivers operating in those states and directly involved with relief efforts can take advantage of the waiver, which is in effect until the emergency is over or until 11:59 p.m. on April 18, 2019, whichever comes first. Drivers must be providing “direct assistance” and transporting supplies, equipment, fuel and/or persons into the affected states or “providing other assistance in the form of emergency services during the emergency in the affected states from severe flooding.”

The FMCSA declaration states, “Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not directly supporting the emergency relief effort or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.”

All regulations remain in effect for drivers not involved in relief efforts.

Historic flooding from snow melt and heavy rains has affected cities and towns along the Missouri River, stranding people and animals and cutting off some neighborhoods. Some of the worst conditions are in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, including Omaha, and the National Guard has assisted in some areas.

The flooding has affected rail lines in the Midwest, causing significant damage to Union Pacific’s rai network (NYSE: UNP). BNSF Railroad, owned by Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK), has also had several subdivisions of service areas affected this week.