FMCSA expands national emergency declaration for HOS relief

March 18, 2020

Mark Schremmer


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has expanded its national emergency declaration that provides relief from hours-of-service regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers who are responding to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak.

“The nation’s truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort and are critical to America’s supply chain,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a news release.

FMCSA’s expanded emergency declaration provides regulatory relief to truck drivers providing direct assistance in transporting emergency items, including:

  • 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.
  • Immediate precursor raw materials, such as paper, plastic or alcohol, that are required to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
  • Fuel.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.

“Under Secretary Chao’s leadership, FMCSA is providing additional regulatory relief to our nation’s commercial drivers to get critically important medical supplies, food, and household goods to Americans in need,” said Jim Mullen, FMCSA’s acting administrator. “We will continue to support them and use our authority to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

The expanded emergency declaration specifies that direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries. That includes mixed loads with a “nominal quantity” of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of the emergency declaration, FMCSA said.

In addition, FMCSA said once a driver completes the delivery, he or she must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property and eight hours if transporting passengers.

The expanded emergency declaration can be found here.

FMCSA issued its original national emergency declaration on March 13.

Editor’s note: Check out OOIDA & Land Line’s handy reference guide that is updated throughout the day with information that all truckers need to know during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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.