A Regional Emergency Declaration issued by federal officials in advance of Hurricane Irma Sept. 7 remains in place for several states and territories, loosening regulations for commercial truck drivers providing relief throughout the areas affected by the storm.
Federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to implement the emergency declaration in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The emergency declaration came while a previous emergency declaration covering much of the same area after Hurricane Harvey remained in effect and while Hurricane Jose barrels toward the Eastern U.S.
“As with Hurricane Harvey, the Department of Transportation will continue to work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other Federal and State entities to provide every resource available for areas impacted by Hurricane Irma,” Sec. Chao said.
Emergency Declarations trigger the temporary suspension of certain federal safety regulations for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief, including direct assistance for the immediate restoration of essential services, such as electrical, sewer, water, and telecommunications, or essential supplies, including food, water, medical supplies, and fuel.
Commercial drivers providing direct assistance to an emergency issued by the FMCSA or a governor are exempt from certain regulations in all states on their route to the emergency, even when those states may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.
Exemptions vary depending on the emergency but usually include hours-of-service restrictions. They do not exempt drivers from CDL drug and alcohol rules and requirements governing hazardous materials, size and weight, or state and federal registration and taxes.