An emergency proclamation suspending the Hours of Service (HOS) rules
through the entire U.S. was granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (FMCSA), according to their website fmcsa.dot.gov
The federal waiver came as HOS rules were falling over the past few 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.
“We understand that FMCSA issued 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.
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.
medical and consumer supply chains.
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