On March 13, 2020, the Agency published Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 because of the US President's state of emergency. The regulation was announced due to the impedance of the Coronavirus. Since then, the Declaration has been expanded several times. On December 1, 2020, the FMCSA publicized the extension of the Declaration, which will tentatively be valid until February 28, 2021, if the situation does not improve and the US President does not lift the public emergency earlier.
Emergency Declaration Provisions
The very first version of the regulation was modified according to the changing people's needs during the disease. The FMCSA made adjustments and removed certain groups of items, technical equipment, and people. Now the Agency proceeds to operate the Declaration, as far as the country is in an emergency as before. And to ensure emergency help, the country needs to maintain load transportation. It includes the transportation of vaccines, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, etc. These cargoes are important to combat and prevent the Coronavirus.
As consistent with this Declaration, truck drivers and automobile carriers who ensure direct help are guaranteed emergency help when necessary. Here, immediate help means the transportation of required goods, equipment, and other loads to provide medical care in cases associated with COVID-19.
The latest version of the regulation claims that direct help is limited to the following cargo transportation:
- livestock, feeding;
- medical facilities for the Coronavirus diagnosis and treatment;
- vaccines and other goods for COVID-19 prevention;
- materials to ensure public safety and keep the required sanitary conditions;
- food, other essential goods.
However, pay attention that direct help does not comprise regular commercial shipments.
Emergency Declaration Restrictions
But truckers and automobile carriers providing direct help must follow other rules under the FMCSR. Namely, adhere to the established speed and road limits and not drive in a state of tiredness, sickness, or another reason that prevents you from fully fulfilling obligatory duties. The CMV driver is not allowed to use a mobile phone and send text messages while driving.
In case of an accident, the road carrier must report within 24 hours by telephone or in writing form to the local FMCSA division. In this case, it is obligatory to report such data as date, time, place of the accident, driver's and vehicle identifiers, and briefly describe the accident. The Emergency Declaration does not override regulations for drivers related to alcohol consumption, CDL, insurance, transport of hazardous materials, weight, etc.
Truckers and automobile carriers under the out-of-service orders cannot benefit from the mentioned Declaration. Direct help ends when CMVs are used to carry loads o that are not intended to fight the Coronavirus.