The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has expanded and extended its March 13, 2020 Emergency Declaration that granted relief to drivers transporting emergency supplies from compliance with certain driver safety regulatory requirements in federal regulations (49 C.F.R. §§ 390-399). The March 13 order was set to expire on April 12, but now expires at 11:59 P.M. on May 15, 2020, or when the national emergency declared by President Trump ends, whichever is earlier.
Under the new declaration, the FMCSA expanded the original exemption to include the transportation of the following products as constituting permitted emergency relief efforts:
- Paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking;
- Immediate precursor raw materials -- such as paper, plastic or alcohol -- that are required and to be used for the manufacture of medical supplies and equipment, supplies and equipment for community safety and sanitation, and paper products and groceries;
- Fuel; and
- Liquified gases used in refrigeration or cooling systems.
However, the declaration has some additional restrictions that the original declaration did not include:
- Commercial motor vehicles must still comply with state laws and regulations, as required by 49 C.F.R. § 392.2;
- Drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle if their ability or alertness is so impaired, or will likely become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause that make it unsafe for the driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, as required by 49 C.F.R. § 392.3;
- Motor carriers shall prohibit a fatigued driver from operating a commercial motor vehicle and a driver who requires immediate rest shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours; and
- A motor carrier whose driver is involved in a crash during this declaration must report a recordable crash within 24-hours to the FMCSA field office where the carrier is domiciled, including the date, time, location, driver, vehicle identification, and brief description of the crash.
Although this extended emergency declaration opens new potential transportation opportunities, motor carriers must heed the specifically outlined restrictions. Importantly, motor carriers must ensure that their drivers are not overworked or fatigued and must immediately take any driver that shows signs of illness or fatigue off duty. As always, record-keeping is extremely important.
A copy of the declaration can be accessed here.