Date: May 14, 2020
Category:

In these hectic times, there is a constant flood of information and updates. As you work to ensure your products are moving as smoothly as possible, here are three quick transportation alerts for your awareness:

FMCSA EXTENDS COVID-19 HOURS-OF-SERVICE EXEMPTIONS TO JUNE 14

On Wednesday, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) officially extended its HOS exemptions to Sunday, June 14, 2020, to ensure the nation’s truckers and the essential industries they move can continue to utilize these much-needed driving flexibilities. First enacted on March 13 in response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, the FMCSA declaration grants ‘emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations’.

As a reminder, the declaration only applies to the movement of essential products and does not exempt drivers from all FMCSA-related regulations, such as those related to speed limits or substance/alcohol testing requirements. We encourage members to review the full scope of what the HOS exemption declaration allows and ensure their carriers are keeping safety top of mind.

FMCSA FINALIZES HOS REGULATIONS THAT WILL IMPROVE DRIVER FLEXIBILITY

Today FMCSA finalized a rule that makes long-awaited changes to its HOS regulations. From the fresh produce industry perspective, the changes are welcomed, as they are expected to result in more driver flexibility and cost savings without compromising road safety.

Some of the noteworthy changes include: allowing drivers (under certain adverse driving conditions) to extend their driving window by up to two hours; changing the requirement drivers take a 30-minute rest period within the first 8 hours of coming on duty, to after 8 consecutive hours of driving time have elapsed, and allows the break to be taken as on-duty, not driving; and modifying the split sleeper berth provisions of the rule to allow greater flexibility for how a driver splits that time.

Western Growers previously joined a coalition letter to FMCSA supporting some of the changes that have now been finalized.

FMC APPROVES PORT DETENTION & DEMURRAGE CHANGES IN FAVOR OF SHIPPERS

Last month, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) finalized guidelines that dictate how it will now assess the reasonableness of detention and demurrage regulations and practices of ocean carriers and marine terminal operators.

In brief, the guidelines stipulate that carriers/terminals should not charge detention, demurrage or per diem when it is not possible for the shipper or trucker to pick up or return a container within the 'free time'. Examples of such circumstances include when a terminal is shut, no appointments are available, terminal or carrier won't take empty containers, a container is still on ship or in stacks, or when a container is held for inspection.

Unfair or unexpected detention and demurrage charges imposed on agricultural shippers has become more prevalent in recent months, given the significant impact COVID-19 has had on sea ports domestically and overseas. As these are guidelines, it will still be up to the exporter or importer to enforce, particularly during contract negotiations. Nevertheless, the FMC's implicit opposition to such unfair charges has the potential to offer more weight in these circumstances moving forward.

Western Growers earlier joined a broad coalition letter supporting the adoption of this rule.

For questions on these or other transportation matters, please contact Tracey Chow (tchow@wga.com or 202-704-7312)

WG Staff Contact

Tracey Chow
Government Affairs Specialist
202-296-0191 x7301

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