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FMCSA Issues Expanded COVID-19 Emergency Declaration

December 2, 2020, Update: On Tuesday, December 1, 2020, the FMCSA announced that they have expanded and extended the Emergency Declaration that was set to expire on December 31, 2020. The expanded declaration adds the transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine and related supplies/kits for the administration of the vaccines to the list of eligible commodities. 

The declaration is effective now and expires on February 28, 2021, or the end of the national emergency, whichever is sooner.


In March 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a declaration temporarily suspending certain federal regulations for drivers delivering goods that are directly related to combating the COVID-19 epidemic.

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, the FMCSA issued an expanded COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, which extends the relief through Friday, May 15, 2020. The declaration has also been expanded to now include liquified gases used in refrigeration or cooling systems.

This announcement follows continued updates from the FMCSA meant to help assist carriers during this challenging period. This includes granting waivers for expiring licenses and medical cards as well as a waiver for those holding Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLPs).

Key Considerations for the Expanded COVID-19 Emergency Declaration

In addition to extending the duration of the emergency declaration and expanding its scope, the FMCSA also noted several key points in this latest version. More specifically, the FMCSA states:

  • Motor carriers are not exempted from 49 CFR 392.2, a regulation that requires carriers to operate “in accordance with State laws and regulations, including compliance with applicable speed limits and other traffic restrictions.”

  • Motor carriers are also not exempted from 49 CFR 392.3, which pertains to “operation of a commercial motor vehicle while a driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired.” The declaration states that if a carrier’s driver is involved in an accident while operating under the emergency declaration, it must report the accident within 24 hours to the FMCSA division office.

  • A 10-hour break is required for drivers that move from emergency relief efforts to normal operations “when the total time a driver operates conducting emergency relief efforts, or a combination of emergency relief and normal operations equals 14 hours.”


As a reminder, drivers and carriers who are operating under this emergency declaration are not required to follow HOS rules while involved in COVID-19-related relief and should not calculate this time in their daily or weekly HOS totals. This includes any time spent returning empty to their terminal or work reporting location.

While it is not required for drivers to maintain specific documentation when supporting emergency relief efforts, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) advises that carriers ask shippers to label the bill of lading accordingly.

Trimble’s Commitment to Drivers and Carriers Impacted by the FMCSA’s COVID-19 Declarations

We remain committed to supporting our customers that are subject to this declaration. For those drivers who qualify, please direct them to use the Emergency Exception, as outlined by US 49 CFR §390.5 or US §395.1 (b) (2). The Emergency Exception is set up on a per-day basis, so drivers who would like to use this exemption will need to do so daily until the declaration is no longer in effect.

For more details on the Emergency Declaration, please refer to the ELD Driver Guides via our Support Center. This includes a version for Android display types as well as a version for Windows CE (WinCE) displays.

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