Early in March, unprecedented flooding caused severe damage throughout the central United States. The flood waters were caused by rain from a “bomb cyclone” and the sudden thawing of frozen ground and ice-clogged rivers. Unfortunately, weather experts expect flooding to continue for weeks. The flooding has already caused over $1 billion in damage. In response to the flooding, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an emergency declaration exempting some truckers from hours of service regulation in states affected by flooding. The FMCSA hopes that these exemptions will assist with recovery efforts.
Details for FMCSA Regulation Exemptions
The emergency declaration allows any truck driver who is providing “direct support of relief efforts” to drive without regard to specific regulations. Specifically, the declaration frees drivers from regulations in 49 CFR parts 390-399. These parts include reservations for hours of service, inspection, parking rules, and other regulations. The FMCSA also will not enforce the Temporary Operating Authority Registration fee to drivers aiding disaster victims.
Even though safety regulations are suspended, the FMSCA stresses that drivers and carriers are still expected to use reasonable judgment. Drivers should avoid driving in hazardous conditions or if they are fatigued or ill. Additionally, regulations for controlled substances and alcohol are still in place during emergency regulations.
States included in this emergency declaration are the following:
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Trucks exclusively hauling relief supplies to affected areas are exempt from these rules. The FMCSA clarified that “direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not directly supporting the emergency relief effort or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.”
This exemption is set to expire on April 18th. However, the FMCSA can end the emergency declaration early or extend it if needed.