Navigating the FMCSA Emergency Declaration: COVID-19 HOS Suspension

March 16, 2020

Updated March 23, 2020 (on March 19, 2020, FMCSA issued an FAQ to address additional questions)

Updated March 19, 2020 (on March 18, 2020, FMCSA issued an expanded emergency declaration that made additional categories of goods eligible for the suspension, including paper products, groceries, and some raw materials)

On Friday night (March 13, 2020), the FMCSA released an unprecedented emergency declaration that suspends Hours of Service (HOS) rules for carriers and drivers who are providing direct assistance in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including moving medical equipment, hand sanitizer, and food, among other categories.

In this unusual time for our nation and the people who keep it running, we know that many of our customers will use this suspension to efficiently deliver critical goods and personnel. At Samsara, we want to ensure that you’re equipped with the right tools to keep your team safe and maintain operations throughout this period. 

We’ve put together an FAQ to help you understand if the HOS suspension applies to your fleet’s operations and how to navigate this change with Samsara:

For additional support, our team is available to help 24/7.

Does this suspension apply to my fleet’s operations?

Generally the exemption applies to fleet operations that are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transportation for medical supplies, fuel, paper, raw materials, sanitation equipment, and medical personnel, among other categories. Please refer to the expanded emergency declaration posted on the FMCSA website for more details.

If the suspension does apply to my operations, how should I indicate this using Samsara’s ELD product?

According to the FAQ posted on March 19, 2020, the FMCSA provides three options:

  1. Use the “authorized personal use” (personal conveyance) function of the ELD to record all of the time providing direct assistance under the exemption. Use of this function will result in the time being recorded as off duty and requires an annotation. 

  2. Use the ELD in its normal mode and annotate the ELD record to indicate they were driving under the emergency relief exemption; or

  3. Turn off the ELD, in which case the carrier would address the unassigned miles in accordance with the current regulation.

We recommend that drivers use option (1) and select Personal Conveyance with a remark indicating they are driving under the exemption. This may be a preferred option for carriers because it will prevent violations from appearing and will not impact the driver’s cycle time. 

If the carrier does not have Personal Conveyance enabled, drivers can use option (2) by adding a remark at the beginning of the shift to indicate they are driving under the exemption.

Please refer to the FAQ posted on the FMCSA website for more details.

If the suspension does apply to my operations, when exactly am I exempt from the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399?

Generally the suspension applies while drivers are engaged in direct assistance activities or are returning to their carrier’s terminal or normal work reporting location, as described in the emergency declaration. Drivers are once again subject to the regulatory requirements once the direct assistance activities are terminated. Please refer to the expanded emergency declaration posted on the FMCSA website for more details.

How long is this limited suspension expected to last?

The suspension will be in effect until the end of the national emergency, or through April 12, 2020, whichever occurs sooner. Please refer to the expanded emergency declaration posted on the FMCSA website for more details.

Where should I go if I have questions about the declaration or how to account for it using Samsara’s ELD product?

For questions related to using Samsara’s ELD product to account for the declaration, please reach out to our support teams at www.samsara.com/help. For questions related to the declaration itself (whether it applies to your operations, etc.), please contact FMCSA directly using the information provided on their website (below) or by contacting your local DOT field office.

For information on FMCSA Emergency Declarations:
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE Washington, DC 20590 United States

Phone: 877-831-2250

Thank you for your work

We hope you and your teams are staying safe and we thank you for the work that you are doing to help support our country throughout this time. Your work is playing an integral role in sustaining people across the nation and our team wants to provide help wherever we can to ease your operations. If you or your drivers need additional assistance, our team is available to help  24/7.

Similar posts like this

Navigating the Canadian Essential Freight Transportation Exemption

Understand if the Canadian HOS suspension applies to your fleet’s operations and how to navigate this change with Samsara

Tools for Operating Fleets During COVID-19

As the world braces for the continued impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the fallout is already causing enormous strain to our global...

A Simple Guide to the FMCSA’s 34-hour Restart Rule

Confused about the FMCSA's 34-hour reset rule? Here's a quick guide and answers to FAQs about the restart rule.