Last month, the FMCSA announced an extension of its pandemic-era restrictions exemption for motor carriers. The latest extension only affects the amount of time a driver can drive in one shift. Under the extension, drivers can skip breaks and drive for more than eight hours in one go.
The original emergency declaration was announced in March 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FMCSA recognized a need to get necessary supplies to their destinations quickly. At the time, the declaration only covered medical and pandemic-related supplies like masks. Now, the goods the extension covers include livestock, food, and gasoline. The FMCSA also added heating oil to its list of exempted goods.
This extension will last until August 31st of this year.
FMCSA extension only applies to driving time
The extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 applies only to CFR 395.3, which governs driving time for drivers. These regulations restrict the amount of time a driver can carry property in one trip to eight hours. They also include mandated breaks and off-duty time. With these regulations repealed, drivers can complete their trips in less time.
However, previous versions provided more sweeping relief for truckers. The order once also covered the following regulations:
- 395.8(a): This regulation mandates that drivers record their duty status. This means that they make a record of when they are off-duty, on-duty but not driving, and actively driving.
- 395.8(k): This regulation requires drivers and motor carriers to keep lengthy records of a driver’s duty status. Drivers must keep seven days’ worth of duty status records on them at all times. Motor carriers must keep six months’ worth of duty status records.
- 395.11: This regulation requires drivers to provide supporting documentation, such as bills of lading, to their employer.
So, while the extension allows drivers to drive more than the legal hours limit, drivers are again required to keep track of their duty status. Of course, motor carriers and drivers still have to stay up-to-date on their other filings. Every motor carrier still needs a USDOT number, for example.