September 21, 2020

COVID-19: FMCSA Issues Extension of Expanded Emergency Declaration Through December 31, 2020

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended and modified the Emergency Declaration that had been set to expire on September 14, 2020. The extension of the declaration and modifications thereto are in effect through December 31, 2020.

Emergency Declaration 2020-002 was issued following the declaration of a national emergency by the President pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 5191(b) in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the public health emergency declared by the Health and Human Services Secretary, and the immediate risk COVID-19 presented to public health and welfare.  Because the Presidentially declared COVID-19 national emergency was deemed to continue to exist, the FMCSA extended its Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 and associated regulatory relief in accordance with 49 CFR § 390.25. 

The extension of the Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons.   

By execution of this extension of the Emergency Declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 national emergency are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, except as restricted by the Declaration and its extensions.

“Direct assistance” means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies (such as food and fuel) related to COVID-19 during the emergency.  Specifically, the extension of the declaration provides relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operations that are providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to COVID-19 outbreaks, including the transportation of:

  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;

  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19, such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants;

  • Livestock and livestock feed; and

  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.

This waiver contains restrictions and limitations, i.e., routine commercial deliveries and mixed loads that are not providing direct assistance for COVID-19 relief efforts do not qualify for this relief. Motor carriers must still comply with state laws and regulations, such as speed limits, traffic regulations, and size and weight requirements. Moreover, fatigued or ill drivers shall not be allowed to operate a CMV and shall be immediately allowed ten consecutive hours of rest after notice of the condition is provided by a driver to the motor carrier.

Further, the waiver provides that all crash reporting requirements shall remain in full effect, as will the requirements for controlled substance and alcohol testing, commercial driver’s licenses, insurance, hazardous materials, size and weight, and any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted under 49 CFR § 390.23.

If you have any questions about these developments, or the transportation industry in general, please contact our Firm’s Transportation Practice Group leaders, Matt Mitchell at, or Bill Pentecost at