For over two years, the FMCSA had an emergency hours of service waiver in place for truckers hauling essential goods. The waiver applied to goods like baby formula, food, household goods, and, importantly, fuel. Well, the FMCSA let its HOS waiver lapse last month, prompting concerns from many in the trucking industry and some states to issue their own waivers.
An hours of service waiver makes it so that truckers don’t have to follow the usual restrictions on driving times. Usually, truckers can only drive for a certain amount of time before they legally have to take a break. However, under an emergency waiver, they have more discretion and can stop only when they really need to. This means that they can drive for longer between breaks and take fewer breaks on the road.
The FMCSA announced an HOS waiver at the beginning of the pandemic as the country shuttered its doors. It continuously extended the original waiver over the last two years, only to let it end without any fanfare in October. It isn’t like our supply chain is doing particularly well now, though, especially in the fuel industry.
States Are Starting to Issue Their Own HOS Waivers for Fuel Haulers
The U.S. is currently dealing with a major fuel shortage, which would be frightening enough as it is. But with gas prices already soaring to record highs this year, the shortage is sparking fears that the price of fuel will just keep climbing forever. Even worse is the (remote) possibility that some states will see their pumps dry up. So a few states are issuing their own HOS waivers to help keep the pumps flowing.
So far, three states have issued waivers. The first was South Dakota, whose Governor Kristi Noem announced that the state would let liquid fuel haulers drive for as long as they wanted on October 26th. Iowa and Nebraska quickly followed suit.
These waivers typically last for about a month, meaning the states will have to reevaluate their waivers around Thanksgiving. By then, they’ll have better information as to how short the country’s fuel supply will be heading into the winter months. They’ll also know more about the economic climate of the country, which is a cause for some concern right now. While America is in next to no danger of running out of fuel, it’s still a concerning time for many. If fuel prices get too high, the country could be in an even worse position than it was before.