The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a 50-state waiver to the Hours of Service (HOS) Rule for commercial vehicle drivers transporting goods related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The order was issued late Friday evening and had been foretold earlier in the day, on the back of numerous state waivers for intrastate transportation. It will last until the end of the day on April 12 or until the end of the emergency declared Friday by President Trump, whichever is sooner.
Possibly the most important waiver that will affect truckload carriers will be the one that impacts equipment and supplies of food for the emergency restocking of stores. The exemptions to HOS will also cover the following, according to FMCSA:
- Supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
- Three types of “persons”: those “necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19”; those “designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes”; and “personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.”
- Although there is no limit on the hours of service driving the truck, the FMCSA order does say that when a driver has completed a delivery, he or she must receive 10 hours of off duty if delivering goods and eight hours if transporting passengers.
- One other provision: if a driver has completed COVID-19 relief work, but then is returning empty to his or her base, they can do so without violating federal rules.