The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration state of emergency has been extended for another month. This is the fifth extension, set to last until September 14th, but may be extended yet again.
You can read the declaration in full on the FMCSA declaration’s webpage. In summary, the exemption for hours-of-service has been extended, with a fourth circumstance re-added to the list of applicable shipments.
- 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 always, the same general rules apply:
- The exemption does not apply to mixed shipments.
- A driver who exceeds his hours-of-service needs to take a break once his or her duty is fulfilled.
- A driver cannot drive drunk, high, or fatigued to the point of demanding a break.
- A vehicle used cannot be out-of-service.
- This exemption does not grant exemptions to other laws such as an exemption to speed limits.
- Many more stipulations that can be read on the declaration.
We feel the state of emergency is no longer needed. The Outbound Tender Volume Index is at one of its highest points ever, yet grocery store shelves are still mostly packed with goods such as toilet paper and various types of food. Compare this with mid-March where the Index was about 23% lower and stores had empty shelves.
This is not to say we are the biggest fans of the hours-of-service regulations; we welcome the reform in September with open arms. We just believe that all of the evidence states that the trucking industry no longer needs this exemption to get its business done.
Extensions to the exemption have been happening later in recent months, often going down to the last few days before a new declaration. Is this a sign that it may soon come to an end? Nobody knows except the FMCSA.