Breaking News: FMCSA waives HOS rules as Sally nears Gulf Coast

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Southern Service Center declared an emergency in response to Hurricane Sally and is issuing a temporary exemption to certain hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

Issued late Tuesday, the exemption applies to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. It covers parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), except as otherwise restricted in the declaration. In addition to HOS, it includes inspection and maintenance of commercial vehicles, employee safety, and parking rules. FMCSR 390-399 can be viewed here.

The emergency exemption is in response to the storm “and the current and anticipated effects on people and property, including immediate threat to human life or public welfare from heavy rains, high surf, flooding and strong winds,” FMCSA stated. “This Declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, goods, equipment, fuel and persons and provides necessary relief.”

FMCSA stated in the declaration that direct assistance ends when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that do not support emergency relief efforts related to the hurricane, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin commercial operations.

“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 operation, equals 14 hours.”

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the slow-moving hurricane is expected to make landfall on the central Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday morning. It had maximum sustained winds near 80 mph with higher gusts.

“The slow movement will bring significant rainfall with isolated amounts to 30 inches, and a high potential for life-threatening flash flooding,” NWS warned in its most recent bulletin issued at 7 p.m. CT. “Extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm surge is expected from eastern Louisiana to western Florida. A few tornadoes may also occur.”