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FMCSA extends 50-state hours-of-service waiver through Oct. 15

National emergency still warrants exemption for truck drivers, according to agency

A 50-state waiver that has provided work-rule flexibility for commercial truck drivers and carriers for over 29 months will remain in place for another six weeks.

The emergency declaration first issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 13, 2020, and set to expire Wednesday has been extended through Oct. 15, according to a notice posted by the agency.

The extension is warranted, according to FMCSA, “because the presidentially declared emergency remains in place, persistent issues arising out of COVID-19 continue to affect the U.S., including impacts on supply chains, and nationwide reporting continues to demonstrate substantial ongoing use of the regulatory relief.”

Wednesday’s move is half the length of previous three-month extensions, which could signify that FMCSA’s 29-month-and-counting, hours-of-service (HOS) emergency declaration may be close to ending.

The waiver exempts — with certain conditions — truck drivers from maximum daily and weekly drive-time rules for any driver or trucking company providing direct assistance in support of the COVID-19 health emergency. Direct assistance, according to FMCSA, “means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) [related] to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.”

Carriers and drivers using the waiver are required to report within five days after the end of each month details of how it was used through an FMCSA electronic portal. 

The waiver has been modified several times over the last two years. The latest extension remains unchanged from the previous one and is limited to the transportation of:

  • 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 the prevention of 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.
  • Gasoline, diesel, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), jet fuel, ethyl alcohol and heating fuel, including propane, natural gas and heating oil.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

6 Comments

  1. I think HOS needs to go away permanently. I have been operating under the exemption, in some form, for almost the entire duration of this COVID farce.
    I have averaged over 18,000 miles a month without a single incident, missed appointment, or rescheduled load. My military training giving me the ability to function safely on far less sleep aside, I’m a responsible adult and know when I need to sleep. What bothers me even more, is how many non-professional drivers can just jump into any vehicle 26′ or less and basically leave CA and drive all the way to ME if they choose. There’s no hours requirement or ridiculous “safety” guidelines for them. We see cars causing SO many issues out here everyday, but the government is always about more regulations on us. Just look at the recent change to I-10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande. 20% of all accidents there involved a truck, usually the cars fault, so they put a right lane only for trucks rule in place and nothing for cars. Funny how that seems to work…

  2. It’s abundantly clear that this has money written all over this. Who determines who’s eligible to be given a free pass to take this provision? Every CMV that carries freight is essential. Why not allow everyone to determine how long or when they wish to work. The outdated HOS is so far obsolete it’s absolutely absurd. Each person is different than another. Why not go back to the original way of operation and let each one determine how they want to live their life in the work they each do. Let’s be real here. What benefit does a government regulation bring to anyone? Regulations pertaining in matters such as transportation only henders the freedom of the individual. Perhaps at one time or another some regulations might have been a necessary need. But it’s pretty obvious it isn’t now. Today it’s nothing more than a useless anchor and it only creates hardships to everyone.

  3. So after this so called “emergency ” I would like to see the raw crash data during the entire time the waiver has been in effect. I would also like to see the miles run by all that used the waiver. But I dont want to see ANYTHING issued by the government or insurance companies because that will all be false data. I bet there will be a nasty surprise in there when they find out what 3A was sued and FORCED to reveal…..that 82% of ALL interactions between 4 wheelers and big trucks were the fault of the 4 wheeler driver. Now that was in the early 90’s, so I am sure the number is higher now. There are some bad apples in our group but 90% of us dont need a federal Nanny to tell us when to sleep. HOS rules are about control and are purposefully complicated (like the US tax code) to keep the federal and especially state revenuers happy. All hidden in the big wrapper of “SAFETY”. I wonder how many of these anti trucking groups are financially tied to politicians…….follow the money, they ( politicians and advocacy groups are about 1 thing and 1 thing only….. MONEY.

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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.