What You Need to Know About the FMCSA Emergency Declaration
Keeping your drivers safe on America’s roadways takes staying up to date on the latest Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) emergency declarations. The FMCSA offers updated state-to-state information about any weather or roadway emergencies. On March 19th, 2019, the FMCSA released a new notice suspending certain federal trucking regulations due to massive flooding in some parts of the United States. The declaration will affect truck drivers and companies in 16 states. Here’s what you need to know.
Flooding in the Midwest
The Midwest United States is experiencing historic flooding, with warnings that affect over 12 million citizens. High floodwaters in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, and surrounding states have caused incredible property destruction, as well as serious injuries and multiple deaths. Intense rainfall, rapid snowmelt, and damaged levees are contributing to the flooding, which is set to break records. The FMCSA has just announced an emergency declaration in response to this natural disaster, which has damaged and shut down many roads, destroyed businesses, and caused power outages.
Temporary Suspension of Filing Fees
The 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 360.3T, makes it mandatory for trucking companies to pay filing fees and a Temporary Operating Authority Registration fee according to the provisions of the law. The FMCSA’s most recent notice, Declaration 2019-002, temporarily waives this fee for motor carriers that are requesting Temporary Operating Authority Registration to provide assistance to emergency relief efforts. The notice accomplishes four main things:
- Acknowledges damage from severe flooding in 16 states.
- Considers public safety and the immediate need for emergency relief.
- Creates no individual rights of action or precedents for future determinations.
- Does not apply to motor carriers with suspended or revoked operating authority registrations.
The suspension of certain regulations only applies to certain motor carriers – those providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief for flood victims. The suspension does not exempt motor carriers or drivers from requirements that relate to federal tax requirements, hazardous material transportation, drug and alcohol laws, or commercial driver’s licensure.
How to Stay Safe on Roads in the Flooded Midwest
The flooding in the Midwest has been so substantial this year because of events that transpired in winter 2018. A particularly harsh winter with subzero temperatures and a lot of snowfall caused permafrost in many locations. Permafrost occurs when soil becomes saturated with water and then frozen for months. This year, when warm rains fell on the flat frozen areas, it melted the permafrost and contributed to the enormous amount of water inundating the area. The ground could not absorb the rain, causing runoff and the rise of the waters in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
Unfortunately, several important levees failed to keep in the rising waters of these rivers, leading to worse flooding in the surrounding communities. Property damage is in the billions of dollars and several people have lost their lives or are still missing. If you are a truck driver working in the Midwest, stay safe by obeying barricades and detours. If you have to drive through water, drive slowly and steadily. Do not drive in water where there are downed power lines. If you become trapped, abandon your vehicle for higher ground or call 911 for assistance.