FMCSA renews company’s HOS exemption

September 29, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is renewing a company’s hours-of-service exemption that allows its drivers to work up to 16 hours per day following an off-duty break of at least eight hours.

FMCSA’s notice of renewal is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Thursday, Sept. 30.

In 2016, Cleveland-Cliffs Steel – previously operating as ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor – received a five-year exemption for its drivers transporting steel coils from one part of the company’s plant in Chicago, Ind., to another. FMCSA granted a five-year exemption, which expired on Sept. 23.

In August, Cleveland-Cliffs Steel’s renewal request was published.

“Given the nature of our operations, driving is a very small portion of our employee’s workday,” the company stated in its exemption request letter. “In fact, driving these commercial motor vehicles amounts to only 10% of their workday each day. Further, none of these employees works more than 16 hours per day, with 16 hours being the exception and not the rule.”

The company said that it has not had any crashes as a result of the exemption over the past five years.

“FMCSA emphasizes that the renewal of the exemptions would continue under extremely narrow conditions,” the agency wrote. “One exemption enables the drivers to work up to 16 consecutive hours in a duty period and return to work with a minimum of at least eight hours off duty when necessary.”

The agency noted that the exemption is comparable to hours-of-service regulations that allow certain short-haul drivers a 16-hour driving window once a week and other non-CDL short-haul drivers two 16-hour duty periods per week as long as certain conditions are met.

“The other exemption is restricted to the company’s coil carriers as described in its application,” FMCSA wrote. “The exemption enables commercial motor vehicles that do not meet the parts and accessories requirements … to use two short segments of public highway to move coils from one part of the plant to another for shipment to its customers. The commercial motor vehicles operate by Cleveland-Cliffs’ drivers will be exposed to other traffic for very brief periods.”

The renewal of the exemption became effective Sept. 23 and is set to go another five years. LL

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.