HOS Exemptions List Surprising – When the Federal Motor CarrierSafety Administration’s (FMCSA) new hours-of-service (HOS) rule went into effect on July 1, 2013, we anticipated lots of pain for the trucking industry. While the 34-hour restart provision has garnered most of the attention and legislative activity, there has been a quite rebellion against the 30-minute rest break. A review of exemptions granted and requested is quite shocking.
The Department of Defense Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) was granted an exemption to the break requirement. Why? Because the SDDC requires constant attendance and surveillance of the security sensitive commodities they ship. Makes sense. The Department of Energy was granted a similar exemption for the same reason. Glad to see the FMCSA agrees that it is a bad idea to leave radioactive materials unattended to meet a break requirement.
The American Food Transporters Conference secured an exemption for drivers hauling livestock. They successfully argued that requiring the break is inhumane to livestock in transport. Stopping airflow to the animals in either extremely hot or cold conditions could be harmful and even fatal. Even the DC regulators could understand the common sense in that argument.
The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association cemented-in its exemption as well. They convincingly argued that since concrete sets up very fast from the time it is loaded and the average length of haul is nroughly 12 miles, their drivers typically spend less than 40% of their time actually driving. Drivers are now allowed to count time outside the truck at the mixer controls towards their required break.
The Oregon Trucking Association got a win and a break exemption for the hauling of timber during periods of elevated forest fire risk. The loggers’ exemption pitch included voluntarily limiting their daily onduty time to 12 hours and effective only when the Oregon Department of Forestry has imposed a Level 3 Industrial Fire precaution. A 30-minute break could literally add fuel to the fire so an exemption was prudent.
Not to be left out, exemptions from the rest break and other provisions are being sought by the American Moving & Storage Association (home owners not available when load delivered), Specialized Carrier and Rigging Association (no place to park an over-dimension load), California Farm Bureau (bees need constant airflow) and the American Trucking Associations (hazmat haulers must attend to load).
The theme for all of these granted and proposed exemptions is quite clear: A mandated rest break creates more problems than the rest issues it claims to solve.
The answer is simple. Forget the exemptions, eliminate the rest break requirement and let drivers manage their time and load how they know best. If the FMCSA looks at its own list of granted exemptions, it will know this to be true!