2014 US Trucking News – Regional Emergency Declaration Issued by the FMCSA
Today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Southern Service Center has issued an emergency exemption for drivers that handle heating fuel.
Weeks of frigid temperatures has caused severe propane and heating fuel shortages. Many heating fuel companies are also asking residents to restrict their usage and have even put limits on the amount of propane or heating fuel individuals may purchase.
The other week, the FMCSA’s Midwest and Eastern Region issued emergency declarations. Today, the FMCSA’s Southern Service Center issued a similar declaration.
According to the FMCSA, Field Administrators in both areas issued the declarations in response to the extreme cold experienced throughout Midwestern and Eastern states from the polar vortex, and the possible continuing efforts of the arctic cold on people and property, including an immediate threat to human life or public welfare.
The emergency HOS exemption has been issued for drivers who are transporting heating fuel throughout Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
The regional emergency declaration is in effect or until 2/11/2014, whichever comes first.
The FMCSA has stated that this declaration has provided for the regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicles operations, while providing direct assistance supporting the delivery of propane and home heating fuels, into the affected areas and consumers in the above mentioned states during the emergency. Direct assistance terminates when a driver or a commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo, or provide services that do not directly support the emergency relief effort.
The FMCSA says that those carriers or drivers that are interested in providing services, or need to understand FMCSA regulations, should observe the following:
Emergency Declaration Information
To provide vital supplies and transportation services to a disaster area in the United States, emergency issues may be issued by the President, Governors or States, or the FMCSA. These declarations trigger the temporary suspension of certain Federal safety regulations, including Hours of Service, for motor carriers and drivers that are engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort.
Relief from the FMCSA is limited to a maximum of 30 days, unless extended by the FMCSA itself. The following information reflects current available relief:
These federal exceptions, when in effect, apply only to 49 CFR Parts 390-399. They do not apply to CDL, drugs or alcohol, hazardous materials, size & weight, or State/Federal registration and tax requirements. However, a Governor’s Declaration may add some of those exemptions.
Even if an Emergency Declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be ongoing, and direct emergency relief must be provided in order to be exempted from safety regulations.
Drivers and carriers should coordinate with State and Federal emergency officials, before providing assistance.
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 highway.
FMCSA Service Centers
The field organizations deliver program services to the FMCSA’s partners and customers. This organization consists of Field Operations, Service center and State-level motor carrier division offices.