In a notice of proposed rulemaking published today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seeks to change the amount of regulatory relief provided under emergency declarations, and for how long it’s applicable.

The agency said in its notice in the Federal Register it is “proposing to narrow the scope of regulations from which relief is provided automatically for motor carriers providing direct assistance when an emergency has been declared. Through the proposed changes, the agency would ensure that the relief granted through emergency declarations is appropriate and tailored to the specifics of the circumstances and emergency being addressed. The agency also proposes revisions to the process for extending an automatic emergency exemption where circumstances warrant.”

FMCSA is accepting comments on the proposed changes for the next 60 days. Comments made be made at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2022-0028.

FMCSA’s notice said while the agency acknowledges that “most emergencies justify allowing carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in responding to the emergency relief from the normal hours of service limits to deliver critical supplies and services to the communities in need,” there need to be more limits.

It said “other safety regulations, including the driver qualification requirements of part 391, the vehicle inspection and other operating requirements such as prohibitions on operating while ill or fatigued in part 392, or the parts and accessories required by part 393 often have no direct bearing on the motor carrier’s ability to provide assistance to the emergency relief efforts.”

Other changes in the proposed rulemaking include:               

  • Change the definition for emergency to clarify that emergency regulatory relief generally does not apply to economic conditions that are caused by market forces, including shortages of raw materials or supplies, labor strikes, driver shortages, inflation, or fluctuations in freight shipment or brokerage rates, unless such conditions or events cause an immediate threat to human life and result in a declaration of an emergency
  • While Presidential declarations of emergency would continue to trigger a 30-day exemption from all FMCSRs in parts 390 through 399, the proposed rule would limit the duration and scope of the existing automatic regulatory relief that takes effect upon a regional declaration of an emergency by a governor, a governor’s authorized representative, or FMCSA to only 5 days
  • Revise part 390.25 to simplify the language allowing FMCSA to extend and modify the regulatory relief outlined in part  390.23