RegulationTrucking

FMCSA halts hours of service restrictions ahead of major storm

Trucking companies and owner-operators looking to participate in response efforts in the wake of a major storm heading for the U.S. Gulf Coast will not be subject to federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules, according to regulators.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration on July 11 – good for 30 days – lifting the HOS restrictions for 21 states in the central and southeastern United States. Tropical Storm Barry was expected to make landfall over the central Louisiana coast on July 13, moving north through the Mississippi Valley on July 14, carrying with it a dangerous storm surge and heavy rains.

“Right now you can only drive for 11 hours straight, but if you want to provide relief, moving a load from Indiana to Louisiana, for example, you would be allowed to drive straight through,” an FMCSA source told FreightWaves. The interstate highway distance between Indianapolis, Indiana and New Orleans, Louisiana is roughly 850 miles.

Drivers responding to provide direct assistance such as drinking water, generators, and other temporary relief are exempt from HOS regulations in all states on their route to the emergency, even if those states are not included in the stated emergency declaration, according to the FMCSA.

Also, “even though safety regulations may be suspended, drivers and carriers are expected to use good judgment and not operate vehicles with fatigued or ill drivers, or under any conditions presenting a clear hazard to other motorists using the highways,” the emergency order states.

The exemptions do not apply to requirements relating to commercial driver’s licenses, the use of drugs and alcohol, or size and weight restrictions.

Barry is expected to dump 10-20 inches of rain over south-central and southeast Louisiana along with southwest Mississippi, with maximum amounts of 25 inches, according to a bulletin from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued at 2 p.m. EDT on July 12. The deluge is expected to “lead to dangerous life threatening flooding over portions of the central Gulf Coast into the Lower Mississippi Valley,” NOAA stated. “The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.”

The storm could exacerbate conditions caused by historically heavy rainfall in the Midwest region of the country over the last several months that have contributed to surging prices of agricultural commodities. Mississippi River barge traffic at St. Louis was stopped from May 23 through June 23 when river levels exceeded 38 feet.

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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.

12 Comments

  1. This is America taking care of people in need. That what makes us GREAT again as President Trump would quote. Were at a all time low on drives in if the fmc can lift the band for there own reasons now. Then they can fight in get us better pay to boost the economy.

  2. Yes, only use your common sense in an emergency. Other than that your to stupid to manage your own work habits, financial gain way of life. I been out here 22 years never been so micro managed so unproductive. But of course we can help the people that hate truck drivers anytime there not needing Something. Goverment pays ridiculous amounts while the industry is crashing. Boycott FEMA until they get rid of this hours of service bs

  3. So now its ok to fucck all the rules ,but when we want to support our families is not ok…. Im going back and forth for next 30 days…

  4. I refuse to do any fema work due to this crap. Fmcsa does nothing but restrict us truck drivers all the time until they need us and then have the audacity to act all magnanimous and tell us we can do as we feel we need in order to help them. NO. I will not help, the FMCSA can go screw them selves I hope their families starve and they lose money because of the storm because they sure as hell don’t care what happens to our families the rest of the time.

  5. This makes a mockery of the idea that these rules are genuinely important for safety reasons. If they were needed to be safe, then why would they want people being unsafe when emergency services are already stressed from the disaster?

  6. I wonder why they are not showing all the comments to this story but tap the comments button and poof here they are! I whole heartedly agree with all the comments posted here. I for one will NEVER haul a fema load because of getting screwed out of over $15,000 in the past from them and loosing a contract because of it. I do feel sorry for some people but then I watch some of my favorite dashcam footage of people who I never met flip me off, and all that sadness goes away!

    1. Practice what you preach. Calling people names and attempting to silence opposing opinions because you don’t agree shows exactly how small you really are.

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