FMCSA Working with EMA on Driver Shortage and Possible July 4th Outages
All week, EMA has been working with FMCSA regarding the states that were anticipating fuel outages due to the driver shortage during the July 4 long weekend. We polled all of the states and began to let FMCSA know of the states that are already experiencing outages as well as those that anticipate outages and are in need of an HOS waiver.
This process has been a moving target, and we have made FMCSA aware of 20 states that are requesting a waiver. An HOS waiver based on a driver shortage is unprecedented and the Administration is struggling to make a decision on granting the waiver.
While there is no fuel shortage in the traditional sense (inclement weather conditions or infrastructure failure), the result is the same, fuel shortages occur when there are not enough drivers to transport fuel to meet consumer demand at the retail level.
There are not enough drivers to supply the public during the high demand week of the Fourth. Demand is expected to be far higher than past 4th of July periods because pandemic restrictions are lifted in most areas nationwide and many are travelling for the first time since the pandemic began.
We are facing an unprecedented chain of events put deeper into motion by COVID that are causing shortages in the same manner as a severe weather event. Finally, this is all further complicated by a widespread focus on retail outages and anticipated shortages by news outlets, and wildfires in California, as well as Hurricane Elsa approaching Florida.
In addition, EMA joined SIGMA, NATSO and NACS in a letter that they sent to FMCSA yesterday, requesting an HOS waiver for six Western states. These state requests were also included in the requests and information that EMA had been sharing with FMCSA throughout the week.