The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will announce on June 18 that it has granted a request from the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) for a limited exemption from compliance with the 30-minute rest break requirement of the agency’s Hours of Service Rule for drivers, American Cranes & Transport reports exclusively. SC&RA’s request, which was submitted on October 17, 2014, was made on behalf of all commercial motor carriers operating under any oversize/overweight (OS/OW) permit in the United States.
SC&RA noted the exemption was needed because of the widely varying regulations for OS/OW permits “within the 50 states, thousands of municipalities, counties and other government entities.” These variations from jurisdiction to jurisdiction frequently involve the duration of the permit, the particular days of the week and the precise hours of the day in which a driver may haul an OS/OW load.
“Because hours in which an OS/OW load can travel are restricted by permit requirement, often those hours will be in conflict with the timing of a required 30-minute rest break,” said SC&RA Vice President Steven Todd.
The request for exemption described several potential concerns facing drivers when attempting to meet the 30-minute rest break requirement while transporting OS/OW loads, including:
• Inability to find adequate safe haven parking locations for an OS/OW load as the timing for the 30-minute rest break approaches,
• Difficulties coordinating timing with government escorts when they are required,
• Delays in leaving a jurisdiction in timely fashion when only a few minutes or miles remain before the permit expires.
“The specialized transportation industry is proficient at planning both intrastate and cross-country interstate trips,” said Todd. “However, in spite of effective planning, the aforementioned regulations frequently can cause drivers to put the motoring public at risk, since the driver is required by law now to park their OS/OW loads for hours, and even days, at state lines/borders while they wait for the next jurisdiction’s OS/OW permit days/hours of operation to allow compliant passage.”
The request for exemption noted that a driver’s decision to meet the 30-minute break requirement by parking OS/OW loads on the shoulders of highways and ramps may sometimes require the vehicle to be parked on up to an entire lane of a road, which increases safety risks for the general motoring public, the driver, emergency personnel and the public.
“These safety issues are compounded in inclement weather conditions,” Todd said. “Drivers may be driving down the road at a high speed, when they quickly realize an OS/OW load is parked on the shoulder and/or partly on the roadway, and immediately need to change lanes to avoid a collision with the OS/OW parked load. Additionally, depending on the location and time of day, blocking off lanes, or parts of lanes, because it is the only place to park an OS/OW load for a 30-minute rest break can cause significant traffic delays and problems.”
As authorized by Congress, FMCSA carefully considers and collects public comments on all applications for exemptions from federal regulations, including hours of service for truck drivers.
The exemption goes into effect on June 18 and applies industrywide for two years. Near the end of that period, SC&RA can apply for renewal. There is no limit on the number of times the exemption can be renewed.
NationsBuilders Insurance Services (NBIS), SC&RA’s exclusively endorsed property and casualty insurance provider, worked with the association on the preparation of the exemption request.