FMCSA faces flood of HOS exemption requests

October 18, 2018

Jami Jones


As if the parade of truck drivers at the listening sessions, more than 5,000 comments on proposed changes to the hours-of-service regs weren’t a hint, a flurry of recent HOS exemption requests makes it pretty clear that almost no one is happy with the regulations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published four applications for exemption on various aspects of the hours of service regs in the Federal Register on Oct. 18. For good measure, a fifth exemption request also was published asking for a free pass from the electronic logging mandate.

The agency will accept comments on all five requests for 32 days, with a Nov. 19 deadline to comment.

The hours of service exemption requests include:

  • RJR Transportation wants to expand the short-haul exemption from 100 miles to 150 miles for its drivers, allowing them to use time cards instead of tracking the hours of service.
  • Rota-Mill Inc. wants to use waiting time for its drivers’ 30-minute break and to be able to extend the 12-hour short-haul exception to 14 hours.
  • Transco Inc. wants to use on-duty, not-driving time for the 30-minute break.
  • And, Wolfe House Movers of Indiana wants truckers hauling steel beams and dollies for lifting and moving buildings to use the 70-hour, eight-day rule, even though they do not operate seven days per week. The rule is normally reserved for seven-day-a-week operations.

The exemption request from the electronic logging mandate comes from Fiat Chrysler, which wants a free pass from equipping test drives with the monitoring devices.

The requests follow the closure of the open comment period on FMCSA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking. The agency presented a variety of potential changes to the regulations, after prompting by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s February petition for rulemaking. A second petition filed much later in the year, from Trucker Nation, was also presented for comment.

The agency considered changes to four areas of the current hours of service regulations:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on duty to 14 hours on duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • And, reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.

More than 5,000 comments were received on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking before the comment period closed on Oct. 10.