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Emergency Declaration Issued by USDOT in Advance of Hurricane Irma

September 7, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue a Regional Emergency Declaration in advance of Hurricane Irma for the States of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Emergency Declarations trigger the temporary suspension of certain Federal safety regulations for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief, including direct assistance for the immediate restoration of essential services (such as electrical, sewer, water, and telecommunications) or essential supplies (such as food, water, medical supplies, and fuel).

“I have directed all USDOT modal administrations to take immediate, pro-active steps in preparation for the impending landfall of this very powerful, and very dangerous hurricane,” Secretary Chao said. “As with Hurricane Harvey, the Department of Transportation will continue to work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other Federal and State entities to provide every resource available for areas impacted by Hurricane Irma.”

Carriers and drivers must adhere to these requirements even during relief from FMCSA regulations:

  • Drivers responding to provide "direct assistance" to an "emergency" meeting the definitions in 49 CFR 390.5 and declared by FMCSA or a governor, are exempt from applicable regulations in all States on their route to the emergency , even though those States may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.
  • These exemptions, when in effect, only apply to 49 CFR Parts 390-399. They do NOT exempt drivers/carriers from the requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size & weight, or State/Federal registration and tax requirements. (However, a Governor's Declaration may add some of those exemptions - read the declaration for details.)
  • Even if an Emergency Declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be on-going and you must be providing direct emergency assistance in order to be exempt from safety regulations.

An FMCSA Regional Emergency Declaration continues to exist for Hurricane Harvey.  The Agency has created a special webpage – https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/harvey – containing resources, links and information for commercial motor vehicle carriers and drivers. Additional content will be regularly added.

A second webpage – https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/irma – has also been created containing resources, links and information for commercial motor vehicle carriers and drivers. Additional content will be regularly added.

For a current list of regional and state-by-state Emergency Declarations, Waivers, Exemptions and Permits, see: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency.

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Updated: Thursday, September 7, 2017
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