When Hurricanes Hit Truckers
by Apex Capital | September 5, 2012
What Happens to Truck Drivers during Hurricanes?
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is urging truck drivers to take precautions during this hurricane season. In the last week, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida Governors have declared states of emergency due to Hurricane activity. Bill Graves, the president and CEO of ATA says, “No trip, and no delivery, is worth putting yourself or others in harm’s way.” Graves recommends that in order to ensure truck driver safety, drivers should plan ahead and follow the evacuation instructions of local, state and federal authorities.
Truck deliveries are necessary during natural disasters; in preparation for the storm and in order to deliver life’s essentials after the storm passes. Freight haulers bring necessary food, water, fuel and other critical relief supplies to people in need. At times this is a difficult and risky decision, jeopardizing a driver’s health, property and safety as well as drivers compliance with hours of service regulations.
Hours of service (HOS) regulations say that the maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles is a, “(2) 14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.” In an emergency situation, hours of service regulations do not change, but truck driver’s priorities might.
Hours of Service Exemption
If the correct paperwork is filed in the allotted time, there is an automatic HOS exemption if an authorized government official issues a declaration of an emergency and the motor carrier is providing direct relief to the protection of human life or public welfare. Federal regulations – CFR 49 Part 390.23 – allow the temporary lifting of certain safety regulations for any motor carrier or driver providing direct assistance in relief during a declared emergency including waiving the HOS regulations for drivers.
Truckers in an evacuation area seeking information on whether an HOS moratorium is in effect should contact an FMCSA regional service center. The phone number is 404-327-7400. This agency will be valuable in determining whether hours-of-service waivers have been issued for any of the states you may be hauling in.
If you’re hauling freight in a natural disaster area please take the necessary precautions and heed government and press warnings about the situation. Trucks are vital in these situations and locals need them to arrive safely with critical hurricane relief supplies.