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FMCSA Declares Regional Emergency in Anticipation of Hurricane Irma

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue a Regional Emergency Declaration in advance of Hurricane Irma for the States of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As with Hurricane Harvey, this regional declaration will temporarily lift some 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 (such as food, water, medical supplies, and fuel).

Per the FMCSA’s Hurricane Irma-dedicated website:

Carriers and drivers must adhere to these requirements even during relief from FMCSA regulations:

  • Drivers responding to provide “direct assistance” to an “emergency” meeting the definitions in 49 CFR 390.5 and declared by FMCSA or a governor, are exempt from applicable regulations in all States on their route to the emergency , even though those States may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.
  • These exemptions, when in effect, only apply to 49 CFR Parts 390-399. They do NOT exempt drivers/carriers from the requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size & weight, or State/Federal registration and tax requirements. (However, a Governor’s Declaration may add some of those exemptions – read the declaration for details.)
  • Even if an Emergency Declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be on-going and you must be providing direct emergency assistance in order to be exempt from safety regulations.

In addition to this declaration, the temporary suspension of regulations to those truckers providing relief to areas of Texas and Louisiana recovering from Hurricane Harvey is also still in effect. The FMCSA’s temporary lift helps to get more emergency supplies and workers into the affected areas.