The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lifted some of its restrictions on drivers carrying baby formula products this week. Responding to a national shortage, the FMCSA will allow drivers to drive overtime to get baby formula onto shelves. The restrictions also apply to those hauling ingredients and packaging to baby formula manufacturers.
The specific law that applies to these cases is 49 CFR § 395.3. This law restricts the length of driving shifts to 14 hours, during which the driver may only drive for 11 total hours. No single drive can last for longer than eight hours without a break during that shift. The law also places restrictions on weekly hour totals for drivers.
The FMCSA also expanded its repeal of the same restrictions for pandemic-related supplies. The agency expanded Emergency Declaration 2020-002 to include heating fuels like propane. The pandemic-era declaration, which also applies to COVID-19 related medical supplies, food, and gasoline, will remain in effect through May 31st.
Biden administration looks to address baby formula shortage
Domestic production of infant formula has been low since Abbott Laboratories issued a massive recall in February. Abbott recalled its powdered formula after four babies became sick after eating it. The company then shut down its Michigan production plant, which has been closed ever since. An FDA investigation into the plant found harmful bacteria in the plant, which likely caused the sickness in the infants.
Last week, the Biden administration invoked the Defense Production Act to help ease the shortage. The Defense Production Act requires manufacturers to direct formula-related products to formula manufacturers before any other customers. The administration also announced an airlift plan, dubbed “Operation Fly Formula.” This operation would allow the federal government to import formula from foreign sources using defense aircraft.
The repeal of these regulations shows just how serious the formula shortage is. These regulations help keep the roads safe so people like us at Global Auto Transportation can make our shipments without the fear of a tired driver causing an accident. Hopefully, the shortage will ease soon.