Safety Corner

FMCSA Extends the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration

I wanted to alert you of the fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has further extended its COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, therefore this specific exemption remains in force to November 30, 2021. 

As has been the case from the outset, the Emergency Declaration provides specific regulatory relief to motor carriers and their drivers to provide direct assistance to the COVID-19 relief efforts.

‘Direct assistance’ refers to commercial motor vehicle operations that is providing direct assistance in support of:

  • Livestock and livestock feed.
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectants.
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
  • Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol; and
  • Supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., building materials for individuals displaced or otherwise impacted as a result of the emergency).

‘Direct assistance’ does NOT include non-emergency transportation of qualifying commodities or routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

Further, to be eligible for the exemption, the transportation must:

  1. Be both of qualifying commodities; and
  2. Incident to the immediate restoration of those essential supplies.

Motor carriers and drivers who qualify under this specific Emergency Declaration are exempted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) while providing direct assistance to the emergency relief efforts. These Parts include requirements under driver qualification, hours of service, and vehicle maintenance requirements.

The exemption does NOT relieve motor carriers and drivers for having to comply with drug/alcohol testing, Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements, as well as having to comply with state laws such as speed limits and traffic restrictions.

‘Direct assistance’ ends when the driver or vehicle is used to transport cargo that is NOT in support of the emergency relief efforts or when the motor carrier dispatches the driver to begin non-emergency operations.

Once ‘Direct assistance’ ends, motor carrier and driver operations are once again subject to all applicable safety regulations. The only exception is that the driver is allowed to return empty to their normal work reporting location while still under this specific exemption. Upon return, the driver must then take a 10-hour break if the driver has exceeded his/her 14-hour clock.

Do not hesitate to reach out to me at ‘Ask the Expert’ If you have questions about this or any other FMCSA’s emergency declaration, and how it may apply to your Fleet.

Click the Extension and Amendment of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 CFR § 390.25 (September 1, 2021), if you would like direct information.

Stay Safe…Always!



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