The FMCSA extended its suspension of driving time regulations last week. The pandemic-era policy allows drivers hauling pandemic-related supplies to drive for longer stretches of time than was previously legal. In providing regulatory relief, the FMCSA hopes to continue to ease the supply chain woes that have plagued the country. The extension will last until August.
The FMCSA temporarily suspended the federal code governing hours of service in March 2020. By providing some regulatory relief, the FMCSA hoped to get necessary PPE like masks and cleaning solutions to hospitals and supermarket shelves. Other goods included in the original round of relief were food and some agricultural goods.
Recently, the FMCSA added fuel products to its list of products that the policy applies to. The addition was a response to worldwide gas prices soaring in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the country continues to grapple with historically high fuel costs without an end in sight.
Regulatory relief allows drivers to drive longer hours
The specific regulation that this extension targets is 49 CFR § 395.3, which governs the hours that drivers can operate. The code prevents drivers from driving too many consecutive hours or too many hours within a 14-hour period. Additionally, it includes rules prohibiting drivers from driving too soon after a prior shift.
Allowing for exemptions to these rules will allow drivers to drive for much longer stretches of time. Under 395.3, drivers can’t drive for more than eight hours without a break, nor can they drive for more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period. The exemption allows drivers hauling specific goods, which now includes fuel, to drive for longer shifts.
The goal of repealing these regulations is clear: to get necessary goods to the people and companies that need them. It seems as though there is a newfound appreciation for interstate haulers among the general population these days. As people have come to grips with not being able to get the goods they want or even need, they’ve realized that long-haul trucking is an absolute staple of the American economy.