Hawley, PA – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a limited relief from
certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations on March 13th, 2020. This marks the
first time the FMCSA has issued a nationwide relief and is in direct response to a National State of
Emergency declared by President Trump. Specifically, the FMCSA has provided a suspension of the hours
of service (HOS) regulations for specific types of cargo necessary to combat the current health crisis.
While this relief is welcomed, I must caution my clients against using it unless they fully understand and
can be absolutely certain their cargo and operation qualifies. The intent of this relief is to allow for free
movement of critical supplies directly related to health and life safety. Since the majority of my clients
are in towing, auto transport or construction typically they will not be qualified to use this suspension.
Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, or transportation of mixed
loads that include essential supplies, equipment and persons, along with supplies,
equipment and persons that are not being transported in support of emergency relief efforts
related to the COVID-19 outbreaks.
Towing – It is my professional opinion that towing operations do not provide direct relief efforts in this
specific case even when responding to a wrecked or disabled vehicle that may have been lawfully using
the HOS relief. The only exception to this opinion is if a tower were transporting a generator or other life
safety critical piece of equipment to a hospital, store or quarantine site supporting the health relief
Auto Transport – It is my professional opinion that absent a contract with a Federal, State or Local
Governmental Agency to transport vehicles or equipment directly required in the support of the relief
efforts automobile transportation is not subject to the HOS relief declared by the FMCSA. Law
enforcement towing contracts do not meet this qualification standard.
Construction – Unless providing construction activities exclusively in support of building or maintaining
quarantine facilities or temporary additions to health care facilities construction operations are not
subject to the HOS relief declared by the FMCSA.
General Freight – I must caution even food stuff haulers to consider the nature and intent of the loads
they are transporting as well as the exclusivity of the use of the driver and truck/trailer during
operations before deciding if your load(s) qualify for inclusion in the HOS relief. Please feel free to
contact me directly for additional case specific guidance for freight and operations not directly
Brian J. Riker, President and Chief Compliance Officer
Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC
Disclaimer: Any information or suggestions that are provided on this website are intended to lend technical knowledge and support to our members. Laws, regulations and best practices change, and the observations and suggestions made today may not apply to laws, regulations or best practices as they may be in the future. Any recommendations made by Independent Auto Transporters Alliance staff are offered in strictly an advisory capacity and are not to be construed as legal advice. Recipients seeking legal advice should consult with legal counsel. Recipients seeking accounting advice should consult with an account. Independent Auto Transporters Alliance (IATA) PO BOX 119 East Syracuse, NY 13057