This has been an ongoing news event, but recent happenings warrant being known. The Texas government on March 18th issued a State of Emergency regarding wildfires in eleven counties. Now, that number has expanded to fifteen counties. Here is how truckers are affected.
The latest declaration casts a wide net over regulation within the state of Texas, not just for the Texas Department of Transportation. One passage declares:
“Pursuant to Section 418.016 of the code, any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or any order or rule of a state agency that would in any way prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in coping with this disaster shall be suspended upon written approval of the Office of the Governor. However, to the extent that the enforcement of any state statute or administrative rule regarding contracting or procurement would impede any state agency’s emergency response that is necessary to protect life or property threatened by this declared disaster, I hereby authorize the suspension of such statutes and rules for the duration of this declared disaster.”
What can be inferred from this is that it is likely that the Texas DOT will suspend various trucking regulations such as weight limits and hours-or-service regulations, to better allow truckers to deliver essential fire fighting materials and supplies for those displaced by the fires.
As of the time of writing, Texas DOT has not released a statement, but it is likely only a matter of time before they do. Currently, there is no set date for the declaration to end.
With Spring only beginning, it will be interesting to see how Texas deals with the dryness of Summer yet to come. Will the wildfires happening right now reduce the amount of available fuel on the ground for the dry season? That is what we hope. By having smaller fires across the year, the chances of an inferno like California’s Dixie Fire in 2021 are minimized.
If you plan to deliver goods to help alleviate wildfire woes, make sure to drive safely. Any suspension of hours-of-service regulations does not justify driving exhausted under the presence of thick smoke.
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