The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has tacked on another three months to its emergency declaration waiving some hours-of-service rules for pandemic-related trucking.
The waiver that was first put into effect in March 2020 and was extended several times was to expire Tuesday. But it now runs through Nov. 30. It could end earlier if the declaration of a national emergency is lifted prior to that.
One thing that has not changed is the list of activities that allow HOS limits to be exceeded. Truck drivers granted relief must be providing “direct assistance” to aid the “immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.”
“Regulatory relief” from the HOS rules will be granted if the driver is transporting:
— Livestock and livestock feed.
— Medical supplies and equipment for COVID-19 testing.
— Vaccines and products related to vaccines.
— Personal protective equipment and other safety and sanitization products.
— Food and paper products for restocking stores.
— Fuel products.
— And a fairly broad exemption for “supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.” It cites delivering building material to assist individuals “displaced or otherwise impacted” by COVID.
The waiver specifically notes that the exemptions do not cover any of the other rules found in Section 395 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which establishes all the key regulations on truck drivers.
The irony in the waiver, which was widely expected, is that FMCSA is just beginning to compile research on how much impact the waiver has had and how many more hours it is providing to capacity. FMCSA announced its initiative to gather data for answering those questions just last week.
Earlier extensions to the rule were handed down in June 2020, August 2020 and December 2020, as well as late May of this year.