How Do Emergency Declarations Affect Driver Regulations?

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As people across the United States watch a hurricane, severe snow storm or tornado unfold on their televisions, they may not think about the relief efforts involved in the aftermath of such natural disasters. The President may issue a federal emergency declaration for a state if:

  • The state submits a local emergency declaration and a state emergency proclamation
  • The situation is beyond local and state governmental capabilities

An emergency declaration allows motor carriers and drivers to provide relief efforts without needing to follow certain regulations.

For example, Governor Mark Dayton recently signed an emergency declaration for Minnesota, suspending regular hours of service for motor carriers and drivers. Usually the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not allow drivers to drive more than 14 hours without taking a 10-hour off-duty break. But, under the emergency declaration, people do not have to follow time limits when providing direct relief by transporting goods and giving assistance.

Emergency declarations cannot affect regulations for commercial driver’s license (CDL), alcohol and drug testing or motor carrier insurance. States vary on whether vehicle registration, fuel tax and size and weight regulations can be suspended in emergencies.

Even when a state or federal emergency declaration is issued, truck drivers are expected to follow safety guidelines and not drive if their alertness or other capabilities are compromised. Drivers are never allowed to drive if they feel fatigued or are intoxicated.

Driving during an emergency relief effort may still result in an accident and injury.

Posted in Tractor-Trailer Accidents