The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a Regional Emergency Declaration for much of the Southeast and two U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as one of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history makes its way toward Florida from the Caribbean.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao issued the declaration for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, along with the two territories, with Hurricane Irma expected to make landfall in the U.S. over the weekend.
The declaration suspends hours-of-service regulations for drivers and carriers in the states above providing “direct assistance” to the affected areas, even if the states are not involved in the emergency.
The declaration does not exempt drivers from CDL, drug and alcohol, hazmat, size and weight or registration and tax requirements.
Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will not enforce the Temporary Operating Authority Registration fee for carriers requesting temporary operating authority. Normally, a $300 fee is required. The agency will end the fee waiver when the Regional Emergency Declaration expires.
Carriers can apply for temporary operating authority by submitting a signed MCS-150 form with “Emergency Temporary Authority” written at the top of the page, along with their OP-1 form. More on FMCSA’s temporary operating authority can be found in a FAQ here.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Irma is a Category 4 hurricane as of Friday morning with sustained winds of 150 mph. The storm is expected to make landfall in south Florida early Sunday morning and continue up through the middle of the state.