This past December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an extension to its emergency declaration initially made last spring in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The extension provides relief from hours-of-service regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers in the trucking industry. It is now expected to expire on February 28th, following month after month of extensions.
The latest extension expands relief to include the transportation of vaccines and medical supplies and equipment related to the prevention and solution to COVID-19. The emergency declaration provides relief to commercial trucking companies and their drivers, providing direct assistance involving the transportation of livestock and feed, medical supplies and equipment, vaccines, supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and food and paper products for emergency restocking (I.E., in grocery stores).
The FMCSA also highlighted that the declaration doesn’t give trucking companies the ability to make their truckers carry a load when they are tired and need a break. If a driver feels tired following more intense transportation schedules and potentially causes harm to themselves, others on the road, and/or the supplies they’re carrying, it could legally put the carrier in a challenging position. Operating within the limits of the extension and supplementing with trucking insurance can help keep everyone safe and accountable on the road.
“Motor carriers shall not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle,” FMCSA wrote. “A driver who informs a carrier that he or she needs immediate rest shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.”
Rolling Out the Vaccine
The FMCSA is extending the declaration because the COVID-19 emergency remains in place. With a sharp rise in infected people and deaths in the U.S. coming out of the holiday season, more supplies are needed, and the new vaccines will need a way to get to the public. This expansion of the FMCSA emergency declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for ongoing transportation of essential supplies and provides necessary relief for drivers and motor carriers.
However, demand will take time, which is why the extension was considered in the first place. The Department of Transportation announced on December 1st that it had taken regulatory measures to prepare for a quick shipment of the vaccine. And with the number of people vaccinated compared to the original projections, a higher emphasis on transportation is needed.
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