Dart officials seek exemption from HOS provisions

| 12/10/2007

Officials from Dart Trucking Co. requested an exemption from the FMCSA for 200 of their owner-operators. They don’t want those drivers to be subject to the prohibition against driving after the 14th hour of coming on-duty, following 10 consecutive hours off-duty.

The company is also seeking an exemption from the requirement that drivers using two sleeper-berth periods to accumulate the equivalent of 10 consecutive hours off-duty spend at least eight but less than 10 consecutive hours in the sleeper-berth during one of those two periods.

Under the exemption, drivers would be allowed to drive up to 11 hours within a 24-hour period between 3 a.m. one day and 3 a.m. the next day. However, the exempt drivers would be required to complete a minimum of six consecutive off-duty or sleeper-berth hours between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. The additional periods of off-duty or sleeper-berth time needed to total at least 10 hours of off-duty time would then have to be completed within any “floating” 24-hour period.

In their petition for the exemption, Dart officials stated that while operating under the current HOS regs, they have found that the two specific provisions – the 14-hour on-duty rule and the split sleeper-berth provision – frequently interfere with the ability of the company’s over-the-road drivers to obtain good quality sleep and deliver shipments in a safe and timely fashion.

Company officials believe the requirement to not drive after the 14th hour of coming on-duty “penalizes” drivers who stop to take a nap or a sleep period of less than eight hours – even if this is at night and it is the “most sensible” thing to do, according to a Federal Register notice on the request.

The six hours of off-duty time required between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. is referred to by Dart officials as the “nocturnal rest rule.” The officials point out in their application that the six hours is a minimum requirement, as drivers will often sleep seven or eight hours, especially when the core sleep requirement is at the preferred circadian phase.

Comments on Dart’s application for an exemption are being accepted through Dec. 26. To see how to comment, click here. You will need the Docket ID, which is FMCSA-2007-0056, in order to comment electronically and you must include it on any comments you submit by fax, mail or in person.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor