Emergency HOS Relief for COVID-19 Response

Additional Information

March 15, 2020


Hours of Service Suspension Related to COVID-19 Outbreak

Hawley, PA – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a limited relief 

from certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations on March 13th, 2020. This 

marks the first time the FMCSA has issued a nationwide relief and is in direct response to a 

National State of Emergency declared by President Trump. Specifically, the FMCSA has provided a 

suspension of the hours of service (HOS) regulations for specific types of cargo necessary to 

combat the current health crisis.

While this relief is welcomed, I must caution my clients against using it unless they fully 

understand and can be absolutely certain their cargo and operation qualifies. The intent of this 

relief is to allow for free movement of critical supplies directly related to health and life 

safety. Since the majority of my clients are in towing, auto transport or construction typically 

they will not be qualified to use this suspension.

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, or transportation of mixed loads 

that include essential supplies, equipment and persons, along with supplies, equipment and persons 

that are not being transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 


Towing – It is my professional opinion that towing operations do not provide direct relief efforts 

in this specific case even when responding to a wrecked or disabled vehicle that may have been 

lawfully using the HOS relief. The only exception to this opinion is if a tower were transporting a 

generator or other life safety critical piece of equipment to a hospital, store or quarantine site 

supporting the health relief efforts.

Auto Transport – It is my professional opinion that absent a contract with a Federal, State or 

Local Governmental Agency to transport vehicles or equipment directly required in the support of 

the relief efforts automobile transportation is not subject to the HOS relief declared by the 

FMCSA. Law enforcement towing contracts do not meet this qualification standard.

Construction – Unless providing construction activities exclusively in support of building or 

maintaining quarantine facilities or temporary additions to health care facilities construction 

operations are not subject to the HOS relief declared by the FMCSA.

General Freight – I must caution even food stuff haulers to consider the nature and intent of the 

loads they are transporting as well as the exclusivity of the use of the driver and truck/trailer 

during operations before deciding if your load(s) qualify for inclusion in the HOS relief. Please 

feel free to contact me directly for additional case specific guidance for freight and operations 

not directly addressed above.

COVID-19 FMCSA hours of service relief for truckers