FMCSA issues emergency HOS waiver for 5 states in anticipation of Hurricane Delta

Hurricane Delta
Hurricane Delta is expected to make landfall along the Gulf Coast sometime Friday, Oct. 9, creating a significant threat to human life as well as businesses, property and infrastructure. (Courtesy: NOAA)

WASHINGTON — With Hurricane Delta expected to make landfall along the Louisiana Gulf Coast Friday, Oct. 9, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a regional emergency declaration and extended a temporary waiver that lifts hours-of-service regulations for some commercial drivers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

The waiver, exempts motor carriers and drivers who are providing direct assistance to the anticipated emergency in the affected states from Parts 390-399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, with limitations. The waiver went into effect Oct. 7, and will remain in effect until the emergency situation ends or until Nov. 6, whichever comes first.

Under the waiver, regulatory relief is available for commercial carriers and drivers while providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief efforts to the affected states when:

  • Transporting supplies, goods, equipment and fuel;
  • Transporting persons into and from the affected states; or
  • Providing other assistance in the form of emergency services during the emergency caused by Hurricane Delta.

Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not in support of emergency relief efforts related to Hurricane Delta, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.

Once a motor carrier or driver has completed direct assistance to the emergency relief efforts, the waiver no longer applies; however, drivers may return, without a load, to the terminal or normal reporting site without complying with Parts 390-399. The FMCSA declaration specifies: “When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations, a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver operates conducting emergency relief efforts, or a combination of emergency relief and normal operation, equals 14 hours.”

The emergency declaration does not offer exemption from controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements, commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements, insurance requirements, hazardous-material regulations, size and weight requirements or any other regulations not specifically authorized in 49 CFR § 390.23.

In addition, carriers and drivers who are currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by the waiver until the applicable order has been rescinded by FMCSA.

According to The Weather Channel, Hurricane Delta is now a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and is expected to be a “formidable” storm when it makes landfall sometime Friday. The storm is expected to cause “life-threatening storm surge flooding, damaging winds and rainfall flooding,” the Weather Channel said.

Hurricane Delta is the ninth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

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