Commercial motor carriers directly involved with providing emergency relief assistance in areas impacted by Sandy were provided with some assistance themselves in the form of an exemption from compliance with Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The Parts include rules covering equipment, maintenance and hours of service among other things.

There are no exemptions from the rules concerning use of controlled substances and alcohol or testing  (49 CFR Part 382), the commercial driver’s license requirements (49 CFR Part 383), the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (49 CFR Part 387), applicable size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically identified in the declaration. Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the exemption.

Curtis L. Thomas, regional field administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, announced the exemption on October 28.

“The emergency exemption is issued as a result of extreme weather conditions, shortages, and interruptions in the availability and/or delivery and repair of services and property throughout the States affected in the Eastern Region to include the following: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. It is effective beginning October 29, 2012,” he noted.

“This declaration of emergency provides relief for commercial motor vehicles operations while providing these emergency materials and services to customers in the above mentioned states during the emergency….Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not destined for the emergency relief effort or when the motor carrier operation dispatches such driver or vehicle to another location to begin operations in furtherance of commerce.”

Drivers for motor carriers operating under this exemption must carry a copy of the declaration. According to FMCSA, the emergency notice will remain in effect for the duration of the emergency or for 15 days (until 11:59 P.M., EST, November 12, 2012) whichever is less.