In the previous month of February, Alabama was hit with flooding and a State of Emergency was declared. It seems with the new month, natural disasters are heading north to Tennessee, where a tornado hit Nashville in the first few days of March. Like with Alabama, a State of Emergency has been declared that suspends some regulations to help victims get help faster.
Differences and Similarities Between Alabama and Tennessee
With Alabama, the State of Emergency Declaration containing rules that impacted truckers by allowing them to drive without worrying about HOS violations, came from the governor of the state, Kay Ivey. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has taken a more direct approach this time, having been signed off by the FMCSA’s regional field administrator, Darrell R. Ruban.
The FMCSA is suspending certain transportation regulations in Tennessee immediately. This is most likely to help with a timely resolution of the State of Emergency.
Whereas the State of Alabama was primarily made to suspend the Hours of Service rules, the Tennessee State of Emergency temporarily lifts nine rules. These include:
- Section 390: General.
- Section 391: Qualifications of Drivers.
- Section 392: Driving of Commercial Vehicles
- Section 393: Parts for Safe Operation
- Section 395: Hours of Service
- Section 396: Repairs and Maintenance
- Section 397: Hazardous Materials
- Section 398: Migrant Workers
- Section 399: Safety and Health Standards
If anything in these sections overlap with a section still being enforced with the FMCSA, the section being enforced wins. This means that the hauling of hazardous materials is still subject to rules described in sections 100-180. You cannot just transport 40,000 pounds of nuclear waste through the heart of Nashville and other densely populated areas. Likewise, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rules still apply, as it fits under Part 382.
Like with Alabama’s State of Emergency, the suspensions in Tennessee have soft deadlines. They end whenever the State of Emergency is no longer in effect, or April 2nd, whichever comes sooner. It is possible that if necessary, the FMCSA will extend the suspensions at their discretion.
Additionally, a driver that ceases to provide any services directly relating to the emergency is once again subject to the nine parts once the driver returns to his or her normal reporting location.
Finally, like with Alabama, having an out-of-service order still bars a driver or business from operation until the FMCSA rescinds the order.
The State of Emergency in Tennessee is much broader than the one in Alabama. Drivers are encouraged to visit the state and to provide help to resolve the damage done by the tornado as soon as possible.
While some regulations are temporarily suspended, in the end, it is your obligation to know which rules are still enforced. One of the most helpful policies is to use common sense. Alabama’s declaration said outright that its temporary suspension does not allow drivers to exceed posted load limits. Tennessee’s State of Emergency did not say so directly, but driving hauls above the posted load limit across Tennessee bridges is all but certain to give you a driving award.
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