Over the past few years, commercial truck drivers have been subject to a new set of rules designed to curb trucker fatigue. The guidelines stipulate the maximum number of hours a trucker may work and drive in a given day and in a given work week. They also outline when breaks must be taken and for how long breaks must last. The ultimate goal is to reduce accidents caused by tired drivers operating big rigs.

Now, however, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a new declaration indicating that the Hours of Service rule will be temporarily lifted in select situations. This decision may initially seem at odds with the desire for increased safety, but the government is indicating such a move is necessary to support the country’s efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Many drivers will still be mandated to comply with the HOS rule. Those exempt will be so only when transporting goods or personnel directly related to preventing, fighting or treating the outbreak. Covered products include medical items used to treat, diagnose or test for the coronavirus or COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Items used to clean and sanitize areas, people and more such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other cleaners are included in the temporary lifting of the HOS rules.

Truckers who transport the medical staff, first responders or other people who will directly help patients, those placed under quarantine and more may also be exempt from the standard Hours of Service rule for now. Drivers may also be exempt when delivery food or other goods to distribution centers or grocery stores.