• ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
Driver issuesNewsRegulationTop StoriesTrucking RegulationTruckload Indexes

FMCSA asks: How much is the industry using the HOS waiver?

Agency plans 6-month data collection to assess value of future extensions

With another extension of the emergency hours-of-service waiver looming, federal regulators want the trucking industry to let them know to what extent carriers and drivers are actually taking advantage of the exemption.

The first-of-its-kind, 50-state exemption was originally issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The order gives drivers and carriers more time to make deliveries without violating federal work-hour requirements. It has been modified, expanded and extended several times as the types of products given priority during the pandemic evolved from food and fuel to face masks and vaccines.

But after 17 months of the exemption being in effect, the FMCSA will attempt to find out how useful it is in order to help inform future extensions.

“FMCSA does not know how many motor carriers or drivers are relying on the emergency declaration.”

FMCSA

“Neither the emergency declaration nor the regulations covering [it] require that motor carriers or drivers operating under the emergency declaration report their operation to FMCSA,” the agency stated in a Federal Register notice to be published on Friday. “As a result, FMCSA does not know how many motor carriers or drivers are relying on the emergency declaration.”

Given the “unprecedented period” since the waiver was first issued, FMCSA plans to conduct a monthly survey for six months of an estimated 1.2 million drivers and carriers to get more information on whether and how the waiver is being used. The agency estimates the survey will take 15 minutes to fill out.

As FMCSA seeks Office of Management and Budget approval of the survey, anyone who wants to comment on it, including whether it is necessary or ways to improve it, has until Monday.

Meanwhile, the most recent extension of the waiver — issued on May 26 and set to expire on Tuesday – is slated for another multi-month extension, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation official.

“We’re a team player on the field alongside our other federal agency teammates that are issuing exemptions as part of the Biden administration’s holistic response to the ongoing emergency,” a DOT spokesperson told FreightWaves.

The current version of the waiver exempts drivers and carriers from Parts 390 to 399 of federal regulations — which includes driver hours of service — for those “providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts” related to COVID-19. It is limited those hauling:

  • 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 preventing 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.

While the commodities are specified in the waiver, the exemption could be causing confusion in the industry as to what is covered, as previously reported by FreightWaves. In addition, truck safety advocates have cautioned that safety should be a priority in expanding and extending the waiver.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

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.

18 Comments

  1. I use the exemption every single and have since the start in March 2020. I am an O/o hauling livestock. Now with the severe drought over parts of the US and Canada the hours of service exemption is needed more than ever to get those animals hauled to slaughter or feedlots. I’ve talked to a lot of livestock haulers who run the Upper Midwest daily like myself who use the HOS Exemption every single day.

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