FMSCA Finalizes Rules on Emergency Exemption, Hours of Service

Following the signing of the Reliable Home Heating Act in June, the FMCSA will publish an amendment to the federal hours of service safety regulations today allowing an exemption for certain states of emergency.

The “polar vortex” last winter caused colder temperatures throughout most of the United States, causing shortages of home heating fuels and both state and federal emergency declarations in the early part of 2014. In compliance with the RHHA, FMCSA hours-of-service regulations now exempt drivers from hours limits when a state of emergency is declared during a fuel shortage.

Initial exemptions will be approved for 30 days, after which drivers may qualify for up to two extensions of the same length based on continuing shortages.

Several states were granted a blanket waiver through May 31 to help propane haulers get necessary fuel to states in need.

The legislation may prove useful again this year, as several conflicting weather reports predict a repeat of last year’s below-average temperatures – if there is another polar vortex, fuel haulers can cover shortages without fear of going over their hours.

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