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FMCSA grants pair of exemptions from 30-minute break requirement

By Jami Jones, managing editor

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 two free passes from the 30-minute rest break.

The agency granted requests from the Oregon Trucking Association on behalf of logging operations and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association for exemption from the mandatory 30-minute rest break. The requests were granted in March and April respectively.

The Oregon Trucking Association petitioned FMCSA in December 2013 on behalf of drivers who transport timber from Oregon forests.

The association petitioned for the exemption stating that the lumber mills depend on regular volume. Environmental restrictions limit the amount of timber harvested, and when fire risk increases the Oregon Department of Forestry limits logging operations.

The National Ready Mixed Concrete 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. 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 it is completed.

The group contends the rest break would threaten the concrete.

Both groups had to make concessions in getting the exemptions.

The Oregon Trucking Association offered that timber haulers wouldn’t work after the 12th hour after coming on duty if they get an exemption from taking the mandatory 30-minute rest break.

Concrete 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.

These are the third and fourth such special long-term exemptions to the 30-minute rest break granted by the FMCSA. The Department of Energy (petitioning for truckers hauling security-sensitive radioactive materials) and the National Pork Producers (petitioning for all livestock transporters) previously secured exemptions that are set to expire this year. LL