Hours-of-Service Suspension Regarding Hurricane Elsa
It should be no surprise to anyone in the trucking industry that whenever something big happens, regulators relieve some pressure to allow drivers to get their job done more quickly. In just the past eighteen months we have had hours-of-service exemptions for:
- Novel coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) nationwide.
- Wildfires along the western coast.
- Cold snap for states along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
- Threats of a petroleum shortage along the eastern coastline.
- Flooding in Alabama.
- Tornado in Tennessee.
Now it is time for the Sunshine State to take a stand against Hurricane Elsa.
While most declarations of this sort are done on the federal level, this is being handled by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). You can read the declaration on the FMCSA’s webpage for each declaration, but FDOT says time is of the essence for Floridians.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, KEVIN J. THIBAULT, P.E., Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation, hereby find that the Department of Transportation’ s timely performance of disaster response functions related to Elsa is hindered by the application of procedures imposed by statute, rule, or order,” Kevin Thibault said in his declaration. Georgia’s declaration reads similarly, listing the potential impacts that Elsa could have in the coming days.
Both declarations are filled to the brim with legalese: if you are planning on making deliveries in either state, we highly recommend that you read both in their entirety to understand the breadth of what each declaration entails.
In a summary, both states declare that hours-of-service requirements are shelved while making vital deliveries in response to this disaster, but go back into effect once the delivery is completed. This means that once a driver finishes a delivery that is pushing travel times, he or she must take a break. Additionally, Georgia’s declaration emphasizes that price-gouging of supplies is prohibited.
Currently, Elsa is a Category 1 hurricane, meaning its wind speeds have not exceeded 95 MPH. While this means the destructive potential of Elsa pales in comparison to Katrina, Elsa can still wreck havoc that may ruin vital infrastructure. Additionally, if weather conditions change it may increase velocity and become a higher Category. Only time will tell what happens next, but if anything else about Elsa happens regarding the trucking industry, we will be sure to keep you posted.
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