FMCSA issues national emergency declaration for coronavirus relief

March 14, 2020

Greg Grisolano


In response to the nationwide coronavirus outbreak, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency supplies.

The unprecedented declaration marks the first time FMCSA has issued a nationwide relief.  It comes on the heels of President Donald Trump issuing a national emergency declaration on Friday, March 13, due to the virus.

“Because of the decisive leadership of President Trump and Secretary Chao, this declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently. FMCSA is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and stands ready to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the American people,” FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said in a statement.

The declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts intended to meet immediate needs for:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 coronavirus.
  • Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
  • Food for emergency restocking of stores.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
  • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.

The emergency declaration stipulates that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.

Read FMCSA’s national emergency declaration here.

Following Friday night’s announcement, The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association issued a notification to its 160,000 members alerting them about the nationwide relief effort. OOIDA’s message notes that the HOS suspension only applies to direct assistance efforts as laid out in FMCSA’s announcement, and it does not include routine commercial deliveries or transportation of mixed loads that include relief supplies.



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.