What is currently considered an essential load?

April 19 2021

Due to Covid-19, on  3/13/20 FMCSA has issued an Emergency Declaration and then extended it until May 31, 2021. It provides  “hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” A new category has been added and considered an essential load –  “direct assistance goods.” Those would be  food, paper products, and grocery store restocking if they fall under the category of “direct assistance goods.” 

Currently, the essential loads are: 

  • Livestock and livestock feed;
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19;
  • Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and
  • Food, paper products, and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.

Note: Essential loads do not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.

What is “direct assistance” according to the extended Emergency Declaration? 

FMCSA defines direct assistance as: “transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.”

Read more about the Emergency Declaration Extension