With over 1 million infected cases from Coronavirus or COVID-19, U.S is almost near the mark of half a million cases, with the only nation being in the three figures. While the whole world sits home and is in self-isolation, truck drivers are ensuring that no one leaves behind in getting their emergency supplies as medical equipment, hand sanitizer, and food, as the panic buyers have already swept clean the malls.
FMCSA Suspends Hours-of-Service Rules for COVID-19 Relief Drivers
Daily Driving hours rule lifted for trucks carrying the emergency supplies. The U.S. highway regulators have suspended the rules that limit daily driving hours for truck drivers that are delivering emergency supplies such as medical equipment, hand sanitizer, and food in response to the nationwide coronavirus outbreak.
FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen said that “The move will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently”.
The revised rules limited most commercial truck drivers to 11 hours of driving time in a 14-hour workday, however, these restrictions were made to reduce the number of vehicles on highways. However, the announcement doesn’t apply for commercial deliveries or truckers hauling mixed loads that include essential supplies but not emergency supplies. 10 consecutive hours off duty must be given to drivers if they inform motor carriers that they need immediate rest.
This is the first time that it’s been suspended on a national level, since 1938 when the hours-of-service (HOS) rules for truck drivers were introduced. While it’s common for states and local governments to lift the rule amid natural disasters when consumers start “panic buying,” household goods and hospitals need medical supplies.
Since 1938 when the HOS rule was first placed, the Federal administration that oversees regulation for America’s six million professional drivers has temporarily suspended a trucking safety law. The HOS rule permits drivers to drive a maximum of 11 hours with any 14-hour workday, and within those 11 working hours, they cannot drive more than 8 hours consecutively and are required to stop for at least 30 minutes. After finish the 14 hour period, the drivers must take a 10-hour break and 8 of those 10 hours must be spent in the bunk, sleeping.
Under the new regime, drivers must still take a 10-hour break off duty after delivering cargo and 8 hours after dropping off passengers. The situation will remain in effect until the president declares an end to the emergency or until 11:59 p.m. April 12, 2020. As anxious consumers panic piled up goods the hospitals report shortages of medical masks and as retailers and manufacturers are straining under the heavy need for everything from hand sanitizer to staples such as toilet paper, paper towel and rice.
However, the declaration makes clear provision for drivers who want to stop, saying, “[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 other 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 eight hours if transporting passengers.”
The exclusion doesn’t apply to every truck and driver on the road, only those delivering emergency supplies and personnel help manage the outbreak.