On Aug. 29, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration for a temporary exemption of the hours of service (HOS) for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort before and after the landfall of Hurricane Dorian.
DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino noted on Sept. 2 that Hurricane Dorian would move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Monday night through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday. “Dorian is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane. Although gradual weakening is forecast, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days,” added Palmerino.
The emergency declaration applies to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The notice posted on the FMCSA website on Aug. 29:
- Acknowledges the current and anticipated damage from heavy rains, high surf, flooding and high winds in the affected states and jurisdictions, as set forth in Regional Declaration of Emergency 2019-005, as a result of Tropical Storm Dorian.
- Considers the interests of public safety and the immediate need to alleviate the effects of the storm.
- Creates no individual rights of action and establishes no precedent for future determinations.
- Is inapplicable to motor carriers whose operating authority registration is suspended or revoked.
The FMCSA said the emergency declaration applies to truckers who are providing direct assistance for the immediate restoration of essential services (such as electrical, sewer, water and telecommunications) or essential supplies (such as food, water, medical supplies and fuel) and other hurricane relief items.
“These exemptions do not exempt drivers/carriers from the requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size and weight, or state/federal registration and tax requirements,” said the FMCSA. State regulations regarding size and weight, permits, taxes, etc. may not have been waived unless stated in a governor’s declaration should one exist, and drivers and carriers should coordinate with state emergency officials before providing assistance, noted the FMCSA.
FMCSA made it clear that only truckers hauling relief items into the areas affected by Hurricane Dorian can be exempt. “Even if an emergency declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be on-going and you must be providing direct emergency assistance in order to be exempt from safety regulations,” said the FMCSA.
In addition, the FMCSA noted, “even though safety regulations may be suspended, drivers and carriers are expected to use good judgment and not operate vehicles with fatigued or ill drivers or under any conditions presenting a clear hazard to other motorists using the highways.”
The declaration is effective through Oct. 28 unless it is extended or canceled.
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