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Trucking and Hurricane Matthew: Keeping Up with Regulations and Lane Reversals

As residents of Florida and South Carolina prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Matthew, state officials and the Department of Transportation are making their own preparations to assist with evacuation routes as well as the transportation of emergency supplies.

Following a State of Emergency issued by Gov. Rick Scott, the registration, hours-of-service and size and weight regulations were temporarily suspended “for commercial vehicles entering the state to provide emergency services or supplies, to transport emergency equipment, supplies or personnel, or to transport FEMA mobile homes.” [1]

As Matthew makes it way closer to the U.S., states along the east coast have begun to follow suit; North Carolina has also suspended federal regulations on commercial vehicles aiding with relief efforts and although South Carolina has yet to suspend regulations, Gov. Nikki Haley ordered a major lane reversal for hurricane evacuation. Based on the most recent information, I-26 eastbound into Charleston was reversed beginning on Wednesday with traffic being directing away from the coast to the I-26 and I-77 interchange in Columbia. [2]

When it comes to daily operations and logistics, the impact of natural disasters of this magnitude is felt well beyond the actual path of the the storm. We talked with Stephanie Vancil, A.M. Transport Carrier Manager, to find out how her role has been impacted and how she and her team help carriers and drivers adapt to the continuously changing conditions:

How do you usually find out about changes to lanes?

Jason (Operations) will let us know during our morning meeting or update us throughout the day and I also get information from carrier or customers. I have been checking the news throughout the day for the past couple of days to keep up with any major announcements.

When you learn that a State of Emergency has been issued, what is your first course of action?

Look over any loads that might be in the area. Then check if they have closed shipping or receiving locations or if they plan to close early. Discuss potential issues with the team, identify potential setbacks and form a plan. Then we attack issues and find alternative ways to get loads picked up and/or delivered.

What are the primary commodities/ types of shipments affected?  

Disaster situations like this usually result in an influx of shipments to a particular area to aid in the recovery. Some of these are preventative measures before the storm hits while supplies are needed after the storm. It’s hard to tell what will be needed until it happens.

Are there any other proactive steps that you take to help carriers/drivers?

I ask carriers about capacity for the remainder of the week and weekend. If we know ahead of time what capacity we have the better position we are to help out. For example, today we have a quite a few deliveries and some receiving locations may be experiencing some delays. I believe everyone is understanding of the situation and are being patient. In most cases we have already established a relationship with these carriers, so the key is to keep the lines of communication open.


[1] Cole, Matt (October 5, 2016). Trucking regs suspended, Interstate lanes reversed ahead of Hurricane Matthew landfall. Commercial Carrier Journal. Retrieved from:

[2] Cole, Matt (October 6, 2016). S.C. joins FL, N.C. in suspending certain trucking regs for Hurricane Matthew. Overdrive Magazine. Retrieved from:


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