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FMCSA Declares COVID-19 National Emergency

Note: This article was originally posted to TopMark Funding’s blog in March 2020. Some information may be outdated.

Suspensions of Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are nothing new to the trucking industry, just recently there were two declared in Alabama and Tennessee. What is new is that the FMCSA has announced a nationwide suspension on HOS regulations in regards to commercial vehicle drivers hauling emergency relief across the entire country.

The National Emergency Affecting Truckers

This declaration, a first from the FMCSA, comes on the heels of President Trump issuing a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus.

“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,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.

The one silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic (and hysteria (that may or may not be unwarranted)) is that it has been a boon to the trucking industry. People across the nation are emptying shelves in a panic. They fear they might be the ones left without hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and canned foods. This has led to an increase in demand for truck shipments normally seen only during the holiday season.

But not so fast, the suspension only applies to:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to COVID-19 (testing, diagnosis, and treatment).
  • Supplies and equipment for healthcare workers combating COVID-19 infections (gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.).
  • Food for emergency restocking of stores.
  • Equipment, supplies, and personnel for temporary housing and quarantine facilities.
  • People designated by authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
  • Personnel to provide emergency services.

The suspension does not mean that a driver can simply work around the clock. Once a driver completes his shipment, he must receive a minimum of eight to ten hours before driving again, depending on what the driver transported.

The FMCSA has posted the declaration in full here.

Conclusion

With Americans freaking out and trying to hoard supplies where they can, it falls on truck drivers to keep the shelves full in this time of crisis. Also, healthcare professionals need to keep an ample stock of supplies to keep fighting the pandemic, and truckers are just the people to help.

This is Topmark Funding’s fourth article covering COVID-19. There is a high chance that things may get worse before they get better. If that is the case, this State of Emergency may exist for a decent length of time. Remember to wipe down the truck’s door handle often and to wear gloves at the diesel pump, and the situation should mostly be fine.

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