As the world and the nation continue to grapple with the growing effects of the Coronavirus, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it will temporarily lift some of its safety regulations to facilitate delivery of essential materials or personnel related to the efforts to combat the pandemic. Known as the Hours of Service rule, this provides guidance on the maximum number of hours a commercial truck driver may work and be behind the wheel each week and each day.
Drivers who transport items like sanitizers, masks, gloves, testing kits and other medical products to be used to diagnose, treat or prevent the spread of COVID-19 may not be subject to the maximum number of driving hours according to Transport Topics.
The move marks the first time such a relaxation of safety rules for truckers has ever been allowed across the entire country. Previously, some regional lifting of rules has been allowed in response to events like natural disasters. Not all regulations will be lifted or eased in the effort, however. All truck drivers and trucking companies must continue to comply with regulations regarding vehicle and driver registrations, substance use, hazardous material transport, size of vehicle, weight of vehicle load and more.
The decision by the FMCSA is not the only change announced due to the Coronavirus. The federal agency was scheduled to hold a safety summit on commercial trucking starting March 19, 2020, but that has been indefinitely paused until the situation gets under control and the agency believes it is safe to hold the event again.