FMCSA cancels HOS exemption for food, fuel, raw materials

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended its national emergency exemption for hours of service (HOS) to July 14 but has excluded grocery restocking, fuel, and precursor raw materials from the extension.

The HOS national exemption, initially issued on March 13 and most recently extended on May 13, was scheduled to expire on June 14. However, “FMCSA is continuing the exemption because the presidentially declared emergency remains in place, and because a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains,” the agency stated in the latest extension notice.

“This extension addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, and provides necessary relief from [federal regulations] for motor carriers and drivers.”

The latest extension, effective beginning June 15, is limited to three categories of freight moved in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19:

  • Livestock and livestock feed
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
  • 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.

It does not apply to other categories that had been added since the initial March 13 order, including:

  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
  • Fuel.
  • Immediate precursor raw materials, such as paper, plastic or alcohol, that are required for the manufacture of medical equipment and other supplies included in the exemption.
  • Liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems.
  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine and isolation facilities related to COVID-19.
  • Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

“FMCSA has concluded that there is no longer a need for emergency relief with respect to the other categories of supplies, equipment, and persons” covered in the May 13 extension, the agency explained.

As has been the case with previous extensions, FMCSA cautioned that the HOS national exemption does not apply to routine commercial deliveries, “including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief” that had been added solely to get the benefits of the exemption.

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