FMCSA Takes Drastic Measures to Combat the Coronavirus

On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic to be a national emergency. By this time, we have all witnessed empty shelves in stores due to the droves of people purchasing food, drinks, and other goods, placing an immense strain on supply chains.  To help alleviate at least some of that strain, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) has granted emergency relief to motor carriers and drivers from some regulations.
 
Pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 390.23(a)(1)(i), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration determined that an emergency exists to allow for exemptions from 49 C.F.R. §§ 390-399.  Therefore, motor carriers and drivers “providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks” are granted relief from complying with requirements such as driver qualification and investigation files, inspection and maintenance of commercial motor vehicles, and hours of service requirements.
 
Assistance in support of relief efforts related to the coronavirus outbreak includes transportation to meet immediate needs for:
 
  1. Medical supplies and equipment for testing, diagnosis, and treatment;
  2. Supplies and equipment for sanitation, safety, and prevention of community transmission
  3. Food for emergency restocking;
  4. Equipment, supplies, and persons necessary to manage temporary quarantine, isolation, and housing;
  5. Persons designated by state and federal authorities for isolation and quarantine; and
  6. Persons to provide medical and or other emergency services.
 
Direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 outbreaks does not include routine deliveries or transportation of mixed loads. Direct assistance terminates when the commercial motor vehicle no longer provides transportation or other services in support of emergency relief efforts, or when the driver is dispatched to another location to conduct routine deliveries.
 
Even though motor carriers are exempted from complying with Parts 390-399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, it is important to still attempt to ensure that commercial motor vehicles are properly inspected and maintained to handle these next few weeks, and that drivers have adequate rest. It is also important to ensure that there is adequate record keeping as to why there is noncompliance with 49 C.F.R. §§ 390-399.
 
This emergency relief order will remain in effect until the termination of the emergency as defined in 49 C.F.R. § 390.5, or April 12, 2020 at 11:59 P.M., whichever is earlier. A copy of the FMCSA’s emergency declaration can be obtained here. For further assistance or if you require more information please contact Frantz Ward Partners Brian Kelly or Christopher Koehler and they will engage the appropriate members of the Coronavirus Response Team.

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