Every month for a while now, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been extending the State of Emergency by another month. The FMCSA has decided to take a more proactive approach, and as of September 11th the State of Emergency has been extended until the end of the year.
You can read the details on the FMCSA’s webpage, if you are so inclined. If you are not, here’s a brief summary.
A driver that is delivering to combat the coronavirus pandemic can drive without hours-of-service regulations if their shipment contains nothing but the following goods:
- Livestock and livestock feed.
- 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.
As to be expected, and as it was in the past, this is not a free ticket to skirt regulations. Other regulations, such as the vehicle being under proper maintenance, still apply. A driver that feels tired must be given a ten-hour break. A driver who has fulfilled a shipment while exceeding hours-of-service must be given a ten-hour break immediately, even if he or she does not feel tired. Proper insurance must be purchased and kept. The list goes on.
What is different from previous extensions, however, is that instead of extending the exemptions by thirty days, it has instead been extended until the end of the year. The State of Emergency may end earlier, if the president declares the need for it to officially be over.
Overall, though, it seems as though the coronavirus pandemic has become “the new normal”, so this news is not exactly new. Stay the course and wear gloves at the diesel pump, and everything should be fine.