A 50-state waiver that has provided work-rule flexibility for commercial truck drivers and carriers for over 29 months will remain in place for another six weeks.
The emergency declaration first issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 13, 2020, and set to expire Wednesday has been extended through Oct. 15, according to a notice posted by the agency.
The extension is warranted, according to FMCSA, “because the presidentially declared emergency remains in place, persistent issues arising out of COVID-19 continue to affect the U.S., including impacts on supply chains, and nationwide reporting continues to demonstrate substantial ongoing use of the regulatory relief.”
Wednesday’s move is half the length of previous three-month extensions, which could signify that FMCSA’s 29-month-and-counting, hours-of-service (HOS) emergency declaration may be close to ending.
The waiver exempts — with certain conditions — truck drivers from maximum daily and weekly drive-time rules for any driver or trucking company providing direct assistance in support of the COVID-19 health emergency. Direct assistance, according to FMCSA, “means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) [related] to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.”
Carriers and drivers using the waiver are required to report within five days after the end of each month details of how it was used through an FMCSA electronic portal.
The waiver has been modified several times over the last two years. The latest extension remains unchanged from the previous one and is 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.
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
- Gasoline, diesel, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), jet fuel, ethyl alcohol and heating fuel, including propane, natural gas and heating oil.