Concrete trucking operations exempted from 30-minute rest break

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 4/2/2015

In what appears to be a growing trend of making concessions when it comes to hours of service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted another free pass from the 30-minute rest break.

The agency granted National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s request for exemption from the mandatory 30-minute rest break in the hours-of-service regulations in a notice of final disposition published in the Federal Register on April 2.

The association petitioned FMCSA for the exemption from the mandatory rest break on Aug. 20, 2013. The group represents roughly 68,000 drivers of ready-mixed concrete trucks, with approximately 5 percent of the deliveries involving interstate commerce – which would subject the drivers to the mandatory rest break.

The association requested the exemption because it says that concrete drivers almost always spend less than half of their on-duty time actually driving the truck. Most of the industry’s drivers operate eight hours per day with 10 hours or more per day being common during the busy season.

Concrete is a perishable product and once the ingredients are mixed, there is roughly only a 90-minute window before the concrete begins to harden and is no longer usable, according to the group. So, once delivery starts, it cannot be stopped until is completed.

The group contends the rest break would threaten the concrete, and by allowing the exemption – given how little time drivers actually drive or are on-duty – safe operation of the trucks would not be threatened.

The agency agreed and granted an exemption of sorts. It is good for two years beginning April 2.

Drivers subject to the 30-minute rest break may use 30 minutes of their “waiting time” at a job site or terminal to comply with the rest break, as long as they are not performing any other on-duty tasks at the time. The drivers must also have a copy of the exemption in their possession.

The exemption can be used only by concrete motor carriers with a satisfactory rating or be unrated by FMCSA. Motor carriers with a conditional or unsatisfactory rating cannot use the exemption from the mandatory break. Additionally the exemption is only allowed for motor carriers who are under intervention thresholds in CSA.

This is the fourth such special long-term exemption to the 30-minute rest break granted by the FMCSA. The Department of Energy (petitioning for truckers hauling security-sensitive radioactive materials), the National Pork Producers (petitioning for all livestock transporters) and logging operations in Oregon have previously secured exemptions.

The Department of Energy and the National Pork Producers exemptions were granted in 2013, shortly after the rest break was mandated, and they will expire in June and July of this year. Oregon loggers received their exemption in March of this year, which will expire in 2017.

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