- Indiana and Texas waived some regulations to speed up supply deliveries during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Indiana and the FMCSA have suspended hours of service (HOS) during the national emergency. Texas has waived a number of regulations, including an exemption regarding oversized and overweight commercial vehicles.
- The exemptions are meant to help grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals restock quickly. On Sunday, President Donald Trump urged Americans not to panic buy, or hoard groceries. But retail grocery stores are running out of essential items, such as toilet paper and cleansers, and the FMCSA and states are realizing they need trucking companies to help the supply chain keep up with demand.
The White House and governors want one aspect of U.S. business not to slow down during the COVID-19 crisis. That aspect is trucking.
Drivers normally can work for 14 hours within a day, with 10 hours of rest mandated.
But on Friday, the FMCSA clarified exemptions to those federal rules in the wake of the president's emergency declaration. They include a suspension of HOS if deliveries are related to the COVID-19 relief effort. Food, medical supplies and other items were mentioned by the federal government. The federal exemption ends April 12. It does not apply to mixed loads of non-essential and essential supplies.
The FMCSA exemptions apply to:
- Carriers of medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment 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 for emergency restocking of stores.
- Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19.
- Persons designated by authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
- And persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.
States are also suspending rules. On Friday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb suspended HOS for drivers delivering relief items. On Saturday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott waived size and weight restrictions for commercial trucks. Abbott also waived its International Registration Plan (IRP), as long as the vehicle is registered in one of the 48 contiguous states of the United States. And he waived the Lone Star State's 72-hour and 144-hour temporary registration permits, as long as the vehicle is registered in a U.S. state.