MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - In response to the coronavirus, and the unique needs surrounding the pandemic, the federal government is easing some of its regulations on truckers in order to meet those needs.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a nation-wide emergency declaration allowing truckers to stretch some of the guidelines they normally work under. Specifically the number of hours they spend behind the wheel.
“We do have to make sure that healthcare supplies are getting to the healthcare professionals that are doing the work to care for individuals,” explained Mark Colson, President, and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association. “We also have to, people have to live their everyday lives, we have to restock those shelves, so we’re going to do that and follow the regulations and guidelines that we live under every day.”
The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s website says the declaration provides relief for the hours’ truckers work when they’re meeting the immediate needs for:
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19. that includes masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, necessary for the healthcare worker, patient and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of COVID-19 spread in communities.
- Food for emergency restocking of stores.
- Equipment, supplies, and persons are necessary for the establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities related to COVID-19.
- Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
- Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.
If drivers don’t meet those criteria, they must operate under all of the normal regulations.
“It’s very clear that normal transportation of goods, you’re not relieved from that, so you have to be in direct support of emergency services or food supply for those services. That’s been very clear,” Colson said. “Our industry works very well with the state and federal law enforcement and regulatory at the dept of transportation, and they’ve done a good job of responding to our industry as there may be some confusion and we have questions.”
To ensure continued safety on the nation’s roadways, the emergency declaration requires that once a driver has completed his or her delivery, the driver must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours if transporting passengers.
To read FMCSA’s national emergency declaration, visit the website.
State officials have also opened a new, toll-free number for people who develop symptoms and need to be tested. For more on how to get tested, you can call 1-888-264-2256. This is not a medical helpline.