Just when the state of emergency from the FMCSA was set to expire, the FMCSA extended it another month.
Every time the hours-of-service exemption is extended, there are new rules and terms. For starters, as of July 13th the suspension only applies to three types of cargo:
- 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.
In addition, there are regulations that must continue to be followed no matter what. Paraphrasing from the declaration:
- You must follow speed limits, traffic lights, and all other applicable traffic rules.
- You cannot drive while fatigued, no matter how short your driving session has been.
- You cannot text while driving or use communication devices that are not hands-free while driving.
- If you get into an accident, you must still report it within 24 hours of the crash.
- The suspension of hours-of-service regulations does not give drivers the ability to drive under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, drive without a license, haul hazardous materials without the applicable license, haul above weight regulations, and so much more.
The fact this second part was added to the declaration when it was not added before heavily implies that some truckers were not exercising common sense when carrying related materials and goods, and thought the exemption granted them further immunities.
The coronavirus pandemic and state of emergency will never end. We thought it would but every time it looks like it is going away, the death numbers spike back up. Make sure to purchase a set of permanent gloves to use at the diesel pump: you are probably going to need them.
At the same time, perhaps this is not the case. The fact that the applicable shipments are decreasing each month shows some sign of progress, albeit small. We enjoyed predicting that each month would be the last month of the coronavirus case, but honestly at this point it is anyone’s guess as to when it ends.