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FMCSA extends HOS emergency waiver until end of 2020

Exemption expiring Dec. 31 needed to address ongoing pandemic-related supply chain issues, according to FMCSA

Latest extension of HOS waiver in effect until Dec. 31. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Federal regulators have extended a national emergency order exempting carriers and drivers from certain hour-of-service (HOS) regulations until Dec. 31.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declaration, issued late Friday, is the first multi-month extension of the HOS exemption since the order was initiated in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The five previous extensions lasted until the following month, with the most recent set to expire on Sept. 14.

“FMCSA is continuing the exemption because the presidentially declared national emergency remains in place, and because a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains,” the agency stated in its latest order. “This extension addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies and provides necessary relief from [federal regulations] for motor carriers and drivers.”

The exemption gives drivers and carriers regulatory relief and flexibility to move certain cargo and products in support of efforts related to COVID-19, according to FMCSA, and applies only to:

  • Livestock and livestock feed;
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment 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.

FMCSA emphasized direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries “including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”

The exemption covers parts 390 to 399 of the federal motor carrier regulations which, in addition to HOS, includes inspection and maintenance of commercial vehicles, employee safety, and parking rules. Details can be viewed here.

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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.