FMCSA doles out pair of exemptions to HOS

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Friday, May 31, 2013

Truckers hauling sensitive loads for the Department of Energy and passenger bus drivers both were given exemptions to various parts of the hours-of-service requirements by FMCSA.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published the pair of exemptions in the Federal Register on Friday, May 31.

The first exemption responds to a request from the Energy Department. The exemption relieves truckers hauling security-sensitive radioactive materials for the Department of Energy from complying with the upcoming 30-minute rest break provision.

Beginning July 1, the new regulations include a mandatory “break” during the 14-hour workday, which requires at least a 30-minute break after eight hours of on-duty time. Drivers may drive only if less than eight hours has passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. Simply put, if you’ve been on duty for eight hours, you’ll need to take a 30-minute break before you can drive. However, the break does not stop the 14-hour duty clock.

The exemption for the radioactive loads is in line with the exemption given to truckers who haul explosives.

The exemption is valid from July 1 to June 30, 2015.

“FMCSA does not believe the drivers covered by this exemption will experience any deterioration of their safety record,” the Federal Register notice states. “However, should this occur, FMCSA will take all steps necessary to protect the public interest, including revocation or restriction of the exemption. The FMCSA will immediately revoke or restrict the exemption for failure to comply with its terms and conditions.”

The second exemption responds to a request by Adirondack Trailways. The bus company requested an exemption from a requirement that drivers change their duty status if less than 10 minutes has elapsed.

The request responds to a situation that passenger carriers face when loading and unloading passengers, baggage or packages. Rather than grant the exemption exclusively to Trailways, the agency opted to grant it for all passenger-carrying operations.

Instead of changing their duty status back and forth, these drivers are exempted from changing their duty status from “driving” to “on-duty not driving” when making stops of less than 10 minutes. The exemption is effective beginning May 31 and will expire on May 31, 2015.

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