For the first time since 1938 when the hours-of-service (HOS) laws initially went into effect, the Federal Motor Carrier Association (FMCSA) temporarily exempted truck drivers transporting essential medical equipment and supplies on a federal level. This response is typical on a state or local level for emergency situations, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, because of the sheer amount of goods trucking companies are responsible for moving.
Some items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and masks have dramatically increased in sales due to panic built around the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, many industry insiders are closely following trucking volumes to measure consumers’ stage of panic buying.
According to the FMCSA’s official website, this suspension is set to last either through the national emergency or April 12 depending on whichever comes first. While there is a great need for quick and efficient deliveries, driver safety should still be a top priority, especially in regards to accidents linked to fatigue.
Carriers also need to be aware of their liability through all of this. Drivers will still be held responsible for any injuries or damages caused by an accident. Carriers should verify the exemption status of their shipments as well to ensure they’re properly complying with FMCSA standards. Be careful to avoid assuming anything.
Beyond the HOS exemption, every other FMCSA regulation still stands. Drivers are also still expected to rest for at least 10 hours after delivering a shipments. What really matters during this unprecedented time is staying well-informed on what’s expected of you while also ensuring the safety of your drivers.
*Kenneth Kowal is a logistics content creator, and the founder of ShipStarter, with over 20 years of experience in the logistics industry.