WASHINGTON — Because of the continuing national emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, which was set to expire Dec. 31, through February 28, 2021. In addition, the declaration has been expanded to include motor carriers and commercial drivers transporting COVID-19 vaccines.
The extension and expansion waives hours-of-service regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers and carriers that are providing direct assistance in support of COVID-19 emergency relief efforts. Relief efforts are limited to the transportation of:
- 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; and
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
“Direct assistance” does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.
While hours-of-service regulations are waived for qualifying vehicles, drivers must continue to comply with state laws and regulations, including speed limits and other restrictions, in addition to prohibitions on texting or using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
Motor carriers shall not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle. A driver who informs a carrier that he/she needs immediate rest shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.
To view the Emergency Declaration extension, click here.