FMCSA emergency declaration questions answered

March 26, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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In order to clarify its emergency declaration, FMCSA has issued a second installment of frequently asked questions to its website.

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency on March 13 announced an emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency supplies. A few days later, FMCSA expanded its emergency declaration and added clarification regarding who was covered under the declaration. On March 19, the agency released an FAQ section about the emergency declaration and how it should be applied on its website.

FMCSA added a second set of FAQs on Wednesday, March 25.

Below are some questions and answers from the website. You can view the full list here, and the first set of FAQs can be found here. The agency notes that this is a guidance document and does not have the force and effect of law.

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Is wood pulp covered under the expanded emergency declaration?

Wood pulp is covered if it is being used as a precursor to one of the essential items listed in the exemption as follows:

  • 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.

Are the raw materials used to manufacture bleach, disinfectants, hand sanitizers and similar items covered under the expanded emergency declaration?

Yes. These items and their precursors are covered as “supplies necessary for community safety, sanitation and community prevention of COVID-19.”

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Does the declaration cover packaging for food – for example, produce containers?

Yes. Packaging is covered as a precursor necessary to the production and transportation of products covered under the emergency exemption.

Are feed and fertilizer covered under the emergency declaration?

Yes. Both are covered as precursors to essential items.

Is pet food covered under the emergency declaration?

No. Pet food is not covered.

The emergency declaration states that after completed work under the declaration and returning to normal operations, a commercial vehicle driver must take 10 hours off. What if there is nowhere at the location for the driver to park?

The driver may proceed to the nearest reasonable, safe location to obtain the required 10 hours of rest.

Is the time spent driving to pick up a truck regulated as on-duty time?

No. Time spent traveling to work in a personal vehicle does not meet the definition of on-duty time in 49 CFR 395.2.

Mark Schremmer

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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.