FMCSA explains changes to emergency declaration

September 3, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has provided some clarification to the changes in its latest COVID-19 pandemic emergency declaration.

In an email to Land Line, the agency provided some detail on the reporting requirements for those operating under the emergency declaration and offered specific examples regarding some new qualifying items.

On Aug. 31, FMCSA announced that it was extending and modifying the emergency declaration that gives regulatory relief for truck drivers providing direct assistance related to the pandemic. Although some relief from the hours-of-service regulations was extended through November, 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.

Portal account

In addition, 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.

The reporting function of the portal will be available for the first reporting period at the end of September, the agency said.

FMCSA also said the information to be reported will be limited to USDOT number, month and year of the reporting period, the number of commercial motor vehicle trips that relied upon the emergency declaration in the preceding month, the commodities transported, and a follow-up question asking which commodities were transported the most.

Building materials

FMCSA’s latest version of the declaration added fuel and supplies to assist individuals affected by the pandemic to the list of qualifying items.

The extension is limited to transportation of:

  • 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 said the new supplies provision, for example, includes loads intended for the construction of temporary housing of individuals displaced as a result of the emergency or for temporary sheltering of overflow hospital patients as a result of the spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Regular shipments for routine stocking of hardware stores and building supply centers would not be covered,” FMCSA wrote.

The agency said direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. LL

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.