Owner Operators

FMCSA continues to prioritize COVID Relief

On August 31, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shocked no one when it extended its waivers to continue to provide flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the course of the pandemic over the last year and half, federal regulators have leaned heavily on the advice of industry leaders to allow goods to continuously be transported to heavily hit areas in an expedited fashion. TCA has been very pleased with the agency’s willingness to act and listen to the regulated community to best serve the public during this unprecedented time.
To better assist those that have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the FMCSA added fuels and a new category of supplies in the latest iteration of the hours-of-service (HOS) Emergency Declaration.
The full list now includes:
Livestock and livestock feed;
Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention 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;
Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol;
Supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., building materials for individuals displaced or otherwise impacted as a result of the emergency).
The non-emergency transportation of qualifying commodities or routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a set quantity of qualifying emergency relief added from the definition “direct assistance” needed to qualify for the exemption, will continue to be excluded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
In regards to commercial driver’s license and commercial learner’s permit holders, skills test examiners, and medical examiner’s certificates, the FMCSA has continued to extend its waivers.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has routinely determined if extending waivers will best meet the needs of the country. While the waivers have been extended again this time, it is yet to be determined whether the agency will extend the waivers again. While the pandemic is clearly still having a profound impact on the country, FMCSA is requesting information from carriers about their use of the HOS waiver. Under the latest waiver extension, carriers must report within 5 days after the end of each month on their reliance on the declaration through their portal account. The hope is this will help the FMCSA determine just how many trucks are utilizing this exemption on a daily basis. The current waivers are set to expire on November 30, and the transportation industry will most likely have to patiently wait until closer to the expiration date to see how the Agency will proceed in light of the new information it has collected.

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