COVID-19 - Emergency Declaration

COVID-19 - Emergency Declaration

Updated June 16, 2020
FMCSA Emergency Declaration And Modification
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended and modified an Emergency Declaration which grants relief from many of the regulations in Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations governing interstate transportation by commercial motor vehicles. This declaration has been extended through July14, 2020 and applies to motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreak. At all other times, the full spectrum of regulations remains in place.

Compliance with the following regulations are NOT waived by this Emergency Declaration:
  • Part 382: Controlled substance and alcohol use and testing requirements
  • Part 383: Commercial Driver’s License requirements
  • Part 387: Financial responsibility (insurance) requirements
  • Parts 100-180: Hazardous Material regulations
  • Applicable size and weight requirements

The extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of:
  1. Livestock and livestock feed;
  2. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; and
  3. 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.  

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. 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 by the May 13 extension and expansion of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, and those categories are therefore no longer covered.
Motor Carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the national emergency are not granted emergency relief from, and must continue to comply with, the following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and conditions: 
  1. 49 CFR § 392.2 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with State laws and regulations, including compliance with applicable speed limits and other traffic restrictions. 
  2. 49 CFR § 392.3 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle while a driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the motor vehicle. 
  3. Motor carriers shall not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle.  A driver who informs a carrier that he/she needs immediate rest shall be given at least ten consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.
  4. 49 CFR §§ 392.80 and 392.82 related to the prohibitions on texting while driving and using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving.

Direct assistance ends when the commercial motor vehicle is used to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts, or when the motor carrier deadheads the driver to another location to begin operations in commerce. At this point, all of the regulations apply but the driver must take 10 consecutive hours off duty before resuming normal operations.

A driver may return empty to the motor carrier's terminal or the driver's normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399. If the driver informs the motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest, the driver must be permitted at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before the driver is required to return to the motor carrier's terminal or the driver's normal reporting location. Once the driver has returned to the terminal or the driver's normal reporting location, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibilities and must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.

There are no specific documents required to verify that the commercial motor vehicle is carrying cargo that is covered by the Emergency Declaration. Retention of ordinary business records, such as the bill of lading, may be useful later for the convenience of the motor carrier to document use of the exemption during future inspection or enforcement action.

While operating under the Emergency Declaration the driver is exempt from all hours of service regulations and is not accumulating hours toward the 60/7 or 70/8 maximums. Record keeping (ELD and/or paper log) is not required. This link contains further details including the use of ELD’s during this time: