FMCSA issues HOS waiver to speed baby formula production ramp

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Monday issued an hours of service waiver for haulers of baby formula and related manufacturing ingredients. 

Baby formula was already included in the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration that allowed for hours of service waivers for drivers transporting baby formula as a finished product. Monday's emergency declaration clarifies that HOS requirements are temporarily waived for motor carriers transporting for both baby formula and the other ingredients used for production, such as corn syrup, casein, hydrolyzed protein and whey.

The waiver covers motor carriers hauling formula and its ingredients to either manufacturers, distributors or stores.

Baby formula has been in short supply since the FDA in February closed Abbott Nutrition's plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after four infants contracted bacterial infections from formula made there. President Biden last week invoked the Defense Production Act to increase baby formula production, requiring suppliers to direct ingredients to baby formula manufacturers as a priority.  

According to FMCSA, by execution of its emergency declaration, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in direct support of relief efforts related to the emergency as set out in this declaration are granted relief from 49 CFR § 395.3, maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles. Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. To be eligible for relief from 49 CFR § 395.3, the transportation must incident to the immediate restoration of baby formula supplies.

Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the emergency as set forth in this Emergency Declaration, or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce.  (49 CFR § 390.23(b)).  Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to the emergency as set forth in this Emergency Declaration, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of 49 CFR § 395.3 while operating commercial motor vehicles, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with 49 CFR § 395.3, except as noted herein. When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations, a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver is engaged in emergency relief efforts, or in a combination of emergency relief and normal operations, equals 14 hours.