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Temporary Suspension of Hours of Service Rules in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

In a time where companies across the world are requiring their employees to work from home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, truck drivers don't have that ability. Truck drivers travel nationwide, coming in contact with different people and goods, shipped from around the world.

About 70% of the nation's goods by weight are transported by truck. From stocking the shelves at stores, supplying the fuel for your car, or delivering needed equipment to hospitals, it is nearly impossible for truck drivers to stop in this time of crisis. Goods still need to get moved and owner operators still need to make money.

The federal administration, that oversees regulations for truck drivers, has temporarily suspended the trucking Hours of Service law on a national level, for the first time since it was put into place in 1938. The hours of service law currently prevents truck drivers from driving more than 11 hours in a 14-hour work window, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

On Friday evening, the FMCSA stated that truck drivers who are moving goods for emergency relief efforts to help with the coronavirus outbreaks can take advantage of the temporary hours of service laws. This will allow medicine, needed supplies, and good to still be transported throughout the country during the national emergency.

According to the FMCSA, the hours of service suspension is providing relief for the following loads:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19

  • Supplies and equipment necessary for healthcare workers, patient and community safety, sanitation and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.

  • Food for emergency restocking of stores

  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19

  • Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes

  • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services

Although limited, there are still some provision to the temporary house of service waiver. The FMCSA declares one provision that states even though there is no limit on the hours driven, once a truck driver has completed a delivery, they must have 10 hours off duty if delivering goods and 8 hours if transporting passengers. If a driver returning empty to their home location, after completing COVID-19 relief work, they can do so without violating federal rules.

The nationwide hours of service waiver is set to last until the end of the day April 12 or until the end of the declared national emergency by President Trump, whichever arrives sooner.

UPDATED March 18:

Trucking companies and owner operators that haul immediate precursor raw materials, such as, paper, plastic, or alcohol, that are required to make essential items are now exempt from hours-of-service, and can follow the temporary rules.

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