Winter storms prompt FMCSA to issue emergency declaration for 33 states, DC

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Fuel for Heaters
Two men climb over downed trees as they head out to retrieve gas for generators, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Huntington, W.Va., following a winter weather system. In response to widespread power outages and the need to heating and other fuels, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued an emergency declaration for motor carriers and drivers providing direct relief to 33 states and Washington, D.C. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

WASHINGTON — In response to winter storm damage and the need for heating and other fuels across the U.S., the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a regional emergency declaration covering 33 states and Washington, D.C.

The declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of persons, supplies, goods, equipment, heating fuels, including propane, natural gas, and heating oil, and other fuel products, including gasoline, and provides necessary relief.

Under the declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in the affected states (see list below) in direct support of relief efforts related to the severe winter storm are granted relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations except as restricted herein.

States and districts affected by the declaration include:

  • Arkansas;
  • Connecticut;
  • Delaware;
  • District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.);
  • Illinois;
  • Indiana;
  • Iowa;
  • Kansas;
  • Kentucky;
  • Louisiana;
  • Maryland;
  • Massachusetts;
  • Minnesota;
  • Mississippi;
  • Missouri;
  • Montana;
  • Nebraska;
  • New Jersey;
  • New Mexico;
  • New York;
  • North Carolina;
  • North Dakota;
  • Ohio;
  • Oklahoma;
  • Oregon;
  • Pennsylvania;
  • Rhode Island;
  • South Dakota;
  • Tennessee;
  • Texas;
  • Virginia;
  • West Virginia;
  • Wisconsin; and
  • Wyoming.

Direct assistance ends 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 the severe winter storm, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.

When direct assistance ends, the motor carrier and driver are once again subject to the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399 — except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399. 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 declaration does not exempt motor carriers and drivers from controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements, commercial driver’s license requirements, financial responsibility (insurance) requirements, hazardous material regulations, applicable size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically noted.

Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by this declaration until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded by FMCSA.

The declaration is effective immediately (Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021) and will remain in effect until the end of the emergency or until 11:59 p.m. EST on March 4, 2021, whichever is earlier.

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