FMCSA emergency declaration extended through February

November 29, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is extending its national emergency declaration through February.

The emergency declaration provides regulatory relief for truck drivers providing direct assistance in relief efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FMCSA announced on Monday, Nov. 29, that the declaration – which provides emergency relief from hours-of-service regulations for motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers – would be extended through Feb. 28. The federal declaration was set to expire on Nov. 30.

The agency first issued the emergency declaration on March 13, 2020, and since has been modified and extended several times. The unprecedented federal exemption will be approaching the two-year mark by the end of this extension.

FMCSA said direct assistance means “transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.”

The extension is limited to transportation of these items:

  • 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, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol.
  • Supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including building materials for individuals displaced as a result of the emergency.

FMCSA’s emergency declaration issued in August made several changes. Although some relief from the hours-of-service regulations have been extended, the scope of the exemption was narrowed.

The most recent version of the emergency declaration provides exemption only from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations’ 395.3, which sets a maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles. Previous declarations covered parts 390-399 of the FMCSR with some exceptions. Of note, the exemption no longer covers 395.8(a), 395.8(k) and 395.11 related to driver’s records of duty status, supporting documents, and retention of driver’s records of duty status and supporting documents, as well as subpart B of part 395 related to electronic logging devices.

FMCSA also announced in August that it was adding a reporting requirement for motor carriers who use the exemption.

Motor carriers that voluntarily operate under the terms of the emergency declaration are to report within five days after the end of each month their reliance on the declaration.

To report, motor carriers can access their portal account, log in with the company’s FMCSA portal credentials, and go to the Emergency Declaration Reporting under the Available FMCSA Systems section on the page.

More information about the emergency declaration can be found here.

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.