In This Article:
FMCSA Extends COVID-19 Measures for Three Months
- By: Andrew Easler, Esq.
- Published: Jun, 27 2020
- Updated: Dec, 20 2022
Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Extended for Three Months
President Trump declared a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued Emergency Declaration 2020-002 in response to COVID-19 outbreaks and their effects on people and the immediate risk they present to public health, safety, and welfare as described in the declaration of national emergency. FMCSA is extending and modifying Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 and associated regulatory relief in accordance with 49 CFR § 390.25. This extension addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, and provides necessary relief from the parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for the fifty states and the District of Columbia. This notice extends the exemption through July 14, 2020.
Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 was previously set to expire on June 14, 2020. FMCSA is continuing the exemption because the presidentially declared emergency remains in order and because a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply franchises. The extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of (1) livestock and livestock feed; (2) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; and (3) 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.
The FMCSA announced that with extension and modification of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the national emergency are not granted emergency relief from, and must continue to comply with, the following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and conditions:
- 49 CFR § 392.2 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with State laws and regulations, including compliance with applicable speed limits and other traffic restrictions.
- 49 CFR § 392.3 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle while a driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the motor vehicle.
- 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 ten consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.
- 49 CFR §§ 392.80 and 392.82 related to the prohibitions on texting while driving and using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving.
- A motor carrier whose driver is involved in a crash while operating under this emergency declaration must report any recordable crash within 24 hours, by phone or in writing, to the FMCSA Division Office where the motor carrier is domiciled. The carrier must report the date, time, location, driver, vehicle identification, and brief description of the crash.
- Nothing in this Emergency Declaration shall be construed as an exemption from the controlled substance and alcohol uses and testing requirement (49 CFR Part 382), the commercial driver’s license requirements (49 CFR Part 383), the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (49 CFR Part 387), the hazardous material regulations (49 CFR Parts 100-180), applicable size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted under 49 CFR § 390.23.
- 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 in writing.
Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce. (49 CFR § 390.23(b)). Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19, the motor carrier and driver are 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 operations, equals 14 hours.
FMCSA’s waiver has achieved its goal in this time of national emergency. Motor vehicles play a critical role in transporting necessary property and passengers, including, but not limited to, shipments of essential supplies and persons to respond to the effects of COVID-19. This waiver will also reduce some of the administrative burdens affiliated with this national emergency as COVID-19 outbreaks have led to widespread closures of State and Federal government offices, reduction of government services, and disruption of transportation systems.
 U.S. Dep’t of Transp., Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin., Extension and Modification of Expanded Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 Cfr § 390.25 (2020).  See 49 CFR § 390.25 (2020).  U.S. Dep’t of Transp., Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin., Extension and Modification of Expanded Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 Cfr § 390.25 (2020).  Id.  Id. Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) regarding the immediate restoration of essential services or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.  U.S. Dep’t of Transp., Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin., Extension and Modification of Expanded Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 Cfr § 390.25 (2020).  U.S. Dep’t of Transp., Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin., Extension and Modification of Expanded Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 Cfr § 390.25 (2020).  Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 and other FMCSA documents related to the COVID-19 national emergency are posted at fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19.
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