FMCSA extends COVID-19 emergency declaration through May 31

February 15, 2021

Greg Grisolano

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An unprecedented waiver of the federal hours of service will remain in place until at least the end of May.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it will extend the COVID-19 emergency declaration in place since March 13 of last year for all 50 states and the District of Columbia through May 31.

The declaration provides relief from hours-of-service regulations for motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers providing direct assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the updated COVID-19 emergency declaration from FMCSA.

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:

  • 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.

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.

The agency also emphasized that the declaration doesn’t authorize motor carriers to force truckers to haul loads even when they say they are tired.

“Motor carriers shall not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle,” FMCSA acting Administrator Meera Joshi wrote. “A driver who informs a carrier that he or she needs immediate rest shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.”

FMCSA’s previous extension had been scheduled to expire Feb. 28. The new extension takes effect on Feb. 17. LL

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Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.