Many truckers faced a dilemma in past hurricane seasons: Violate HOS and get out of Dodge, or comply with the regs and get stuck in the middle of a dangerous storm.
While it would seem that logic would kick in at some point and truckers would be allowed to save their hides, just like people living in the area, it hasn’t always worked out that way. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association fielded a number of questions and took a few complaints on this very subject during Katrina and Rita.
According to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman, 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 for the protection of human life or public welfare.
Specifically, 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. This includes easing the HOS regulations for drivers.
The spokesman said truckers in an evacuation area wanting info on whether an HOS moratorium is in effect should contact an FMCSA regional service center.
The following list includes the location, phone number and territory included for each FMCSA regional service center. These numbers will be valuable in determining whether hours-of-service waivers have been issued for a region either threatened or hit by a hurricane or other disaster.
Eastern Service Center
CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NJ, NH, NY, PA, Puerto Rico, RI, VA, VT, WV
Southern Service Center
AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, NM, OK, SC, TN, TX
Midwestern Service Center
IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MO, MN, NE, OH, WI
Western Service Center
American Samoa, AK, AZ, CA, CO, Guam, HI, ID, Mariana Islands, MT, ND, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY