Hours of Service Relief Extends and Expands
Help Is on the Way
The first vaccines are starting to roll out, and the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a national emergency declaration giving hours of service (HOS) relief to commercial vehicle operators transporting vaccines and other emergency relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This declaration runs through February 28, 2021 and applies to drivers who are assisting relief efforts directly, with cargo that is needed immediately. Routine deliveries, or mixed loads that include a nominal amount of emergency relief do not qualify for this HOS exemption.
Essential for Everyone
What loads are considered emergency relief? Let’s take a look:
- Vaccines, medical supplies, and equipment required for the administration of vaccines related to the prevention of COVID-19
- 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, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectants
- Livestock and livestock feed
- Food, paper products, and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers and stores
Also, if a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts back to normal service, the driver must get a minimum of 10 hours off-duty if the total time spent running emergency supplies—or a combination of emergency and normal operations—equals 14 hours or more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unique actions and multiple firsts from the FMCSA. The hours of service national emergency declaration, allowing drivers to have emergency access to licenses and permits, distribution of over three million face coverings, and ensuring rest stops are open and truck parking is available, are just a few direct actions they’ve taken.
Unusual times call for unusual measures and require that everyone pulls together to protect our drivers, our industry, and our communities. Federal agencies have been working hard to make sure the commercial transportation industry is an effective part of the solution to the pandemic, and this is just the latest action to help see everyone through this crisis.
You can take a look at everything the FMCSA has done to support our trucking heroes and keep them healthy in response to COVID-19 here.