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FMCSA to grant Hours of Service waiver for all the USA

An emergency proclamation suspending an undefined part of the Hours of Service (HOS)

rules through the entire U.S. is expected to be granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety

Administration (FMCSA), according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). 


The federal waiver will come as HOS rules were falling over the past two days within a

number of states where supply chains are straining under the demands to restock medical

and consumer goods that are rapidly being depleted. The waivers on the state level were

wide-ranging and across the country. Check with your local state to confirm waiver.


“We understand that FMCSA will be issuing an emergency proclamation suspending federal

hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for operations engaged in emergency relief related to

COVID-19,” ATA vice president for safety policy Dan Horvath said in a note to its members.

“We expect FMCSA to post the specific criteria of this proclamation on their website,

including clarifying information about the types of loads and work covered.”


That note was the second one of the day sent by ATA. Not long before that, the ATA had

said in a note that FMCSA had issued the rule suspending HOS for interstate operations.

But that was quickly preempted by a second note saying that such a rule was expected

rather than issued.


FMCSA was not immediately available for comment. But in the note, Horvath said carriers

and drivers “remain responsible for ensuring that drivers are receiving sufficient rest and are

not operating fatigued.”


The waiver on the federal level and in the states comes as capacity is tightening and

demand for trucking is soaring, as shown in the Outbound Tender Volume Index from

SONAR. Demand for simple goods like toilet paper all the way up to sophisticated products

like medical devices is straining the trucking sector. 


An official with one state trucking association noted that its state’s limitations on what it

could carry did include medical equipment and consumer goods. That would cover a lot, but

presumably wouldn’t apply to something like a flatbed hauling industrial equipment.

Whether the definition of “emergency relief” in the FMCSA rule is narrow or broad will need

to be determined by the specifics in the waiver.


As Paul Enos, president of the Nevada Trucking Association said in his letter requesting a

waiver from the governor of Nevada: “One carrier who delivers dry goods to a major grocery

store chain in southern Nevada, Utah and northern Arizona has seen a 20% increase this

week. Retailers have gone through a month and half of inventory in four days.”


Enos cited rising detention times as a key reason for a waiver to be needed. Citing SONAR

data, Enos told FreightWaves that detention times “are close to their highest annual levels”

as trucks encounter docks operating at capacity to resupply medical and consumer supply

chains.


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