A few years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted what it called the Hours of Service rule for commercial truck drivers. This rule aimed to prevent or curb instances of fatigued operation by truckers by limiting the number of days and hours a trucker could drive each work week. The rule also outlined provisions for when and how long break periods were required to last before a driver could return to work.
While the goal of the Hours of Service rule was ultimately better safety on the road for everyone, that very rule is now being lifted in select circumstances. The reason for the change is yet another safety-related need due to the growing Coronavirus pandemic.
As reported by The Trucker, a driver transporting either personnel or goods directly aimed to alleviate issues related to Coronavirus or provide support to those helping on the ground may not be subject to the Hours of Service rule until at least April 12, 2020. A driver may voluntarily request a break, however. Any such request must be heeded by a minimum of 10 hours off duty for property-carrying drivers. Examples of some items that may be covered under the temporary lift include food or equipment necessary to be restocked at stores for consumer needs; soaps, gloves, masks and other items designed to keep medical staff safe and prevent them from spreading the infection; or medical supplies used to treat, diagnose or detect COVID-19.
Drivers carrying people to locations to provide emergency services and relief may also not be bound by the Hours of Service rule when providing such transport.