The winter storm causing havoc and continuing to spread across major parts of the country has prompted a waiver from regulators exempting drivers from hours-of-service (HOS) rules to speed deliveries of fuel and other emergency supplies to affected areas.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Midwestern, Southern and Western Service Centers issued late Wednesday a regional emergency declaration that exempts drivers and carriers from Parts 390 through 399 of federal regulations, which include HOS.
“Such emergency is in response to damage and heating and other fuel shortages from severe winter storms” in the 33 affected states and the District of Columbia, the FMCSA’s order states. “This declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of persons, supplies, goods, equipment, heating fuels, including propane, natural gas and heating oil and other fuel products, including gasoline, and provides necessary relief.”
The waiver terminates when a driver begins hauling interstate cargo that is not part of emergency relief efforts related to the severe winter storm, according to the order, or when the driver’s company dispatches the driver or vehicle to another location to begin non-storm-related operations.
Diesel prices moved higher this week as major truck stop operators reported power outages preventing pumps from working or because they were out of fuel.
As of 7 a.m. ET Thursday, more than 600,000 customers in Texas had no electricity, compared to about 4 million on Tuesday. Hundreds of thousands still have no power in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Kentucky and West Virginia combined.
The storm is expected to spread across the Northeast, fading late Friday. Snow will change to sleet and freezing rain along the I-95 corridor, from Washington to Boston. Some areas could see up to one half inch of ice buildup, according to forecasts, leading to potential road closures and power outages.
The 33 states subject to the emergency declaration:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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