FMCSA seeks comments on three more HOS exemptions

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line Digital Content Editor | 12/18/2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering a trio of requests from five groups who are seeking exemption from the hours-of-service regulations for emergency situations.

The requests were published in today’s edition of the Federal Register. All three requests have a 30-day public comment period.

The American Bakers Association and International Dairy Foods Association have filed a joint application requesting an exemption from the HOS regulations for drivers engaged in the delivery of baked goods and milk products “during periods and in geographic areas reasonably anticipated to be impacted by an impending natural disaster or emergency situation.” The request asks for a five-year exemption from 49 CFR part 395 for their drivers engaged in the delivery of essential food staples to extend their driving hours to help communities prepare for anticipated disaster conditions, such as extreme weather events, natural disasters, and other emergencies.

The applicants state that the exemption would achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent the proposed exemption.

The ABA represents the wholesale baking industry and advocates on behalf of more than 1,000 baking facilities and company suppliers. They claim the average number of drivers and commercial vehicles per company is approximately 1,050. The IDFA estimates there are approximately 15,500 drivers and 18,000 trucks – including smaller delivery trucks – operating in the fluid milk industry.

Comments may be filed here.
To view the full docket on this request, click here.

The Association of American Railroads and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association have filed a joint request for a limited exemption from the maximum driving time requirements of the HOS regulations for drivers of property-carrying vehicles. The applicants request the exemption to enable affected railroad employees, subject to the HOS rule, to respond to an unplanned event that occurs outside of or extends beyond the employee's normal work hours. Those unplanned events could include train derailments; rail failure or other dangerous track conditions; disabled vehicles on tracks; weather or storm-related events; and matters of national security or concerning public safety. The groups are requesting a five-year exemption.

In terms of ensuring safety requirements, the request proposes to give employees required to drive within the terms of the requested exemption additional time off-duty in excess of the 10 consecutive hours required by regulations.

Comments may be filed here.
To view the full docket on this request, click here.

The third request comes from North Shore Environmental Construction, a Germanton, Wis.-based environmental contractor providing industrial cleanup, emergency response spill cleanup and environmental services.

North Shore is requesting a five-year exemption from the 14-hour rule for their drivers engaged in responding to environmental emergencies for its 12 drivers and 15 vehicles. The request states that “North Shore's employees are hybrid driver/operator/technicians” and that “total on-duty time can be a challenge, especially after normal work hours.”

North Shore claims there would be “a significant challenge in responding to environmental emergencies if the exemption was not granted.”

“The initial response hours are the most critical in an environmental emergency and the ability to quickly respond is vital,” the request states. North Shore believes that a tightly managed exemption actually provides a risk-averse situation by discouraging potentially unmanaged risk taking. If the exemption is not granted, there could be a disruption of nation/regional commerce activities, including power restoration activities and protection of interstate commerce and infrastructure.” The proposal would limit affected drivers to no more than 4.5 additional hours of on-duty time for an initial response.

Comments may be filed here.
To view the full docket on this request, click here.