UPDATE: FMCSA has added West Virginia to the list of affected states.
Effective today, May 9, 2021, the FMCSA has declared a regional emergency in response to the unexpected shutdown of the Colonial pipeline system. According to the agency, its emergency declaration “addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products and provides necessary relief.” Affected States and jurisdictions included in the emergency declaration are: Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency relief efforts and transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products within these states are exempt from Parts 390 through 399 of the federal safety regulations, which includes, among other things, driver qualification requirements, hours-of-service restrictions, and vehicle maintenance rules. As is true with most FMCSA exemptions of this sort, “direct assistance” terminates when a driver is used to transport cargo or provides service not in response to the emergency. When drivers move from emergency relief efforts to non-emergency work, they must first obtain a 10-hour off-duty break.
The exemption offers no relief from the following components of the safety regulations: the controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements (49 CFR Part 382), the commercial driver’s license requirements (49 CFR Part 383), the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (49 CFR Part 387), the hazardous material regulations (49 CFR Parts 100-180), applicable size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically authorized pursuant to 49 CFR § 390.23.
The declaration is effective immediately and will remain in effect until the end of the emergency or 11:59 PM on June 8, 2021, whichever is earlier. The full text of the agency’s declaration is available at this link: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency/esc-ssc-wsc-regional-emergency-declaration-2021-002-05-09-2021
If you have any questions about the scope of this exemption or its application to your operations, please feel free to contact us.