FMCSA grants portion of hours-of-service exemption request

September 30, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The FMCSA has granted a portion of the National Mobile Shower and Catering Association’s request for an exemption from several provisions within the hours-of-service regulations.

The exemption request was made in November 2018 on behalf of drivers employed by the catering association’s member companies engaged in the transportation of equipment that provides food and water service to federally contracted forest firefighters and similar emergency workers who establish temporary base camps.

The agency’s decision is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register Oct. 1, and the exemption will remain in effect until Oct. 1, 2024.

For its member drivers who are responding under a “resource order,” the catering group asked the agency to:

  • Extend the 14-hour duty period to no more than 16 hours.
  • Not include waiting time in the calculation of the 16-hour duty period.
  • Not require compliance with the 30-minute rest break provision.
  • Extend the maximum hours on duty in a seven-day period from 60 to 80 hours.
  • Extend the 11 hours of driving time to 12.
  • Extend the eight days in 30 exception in the electronic logging device rule to 12 days in 30.

FMCSA elected to allow extensions from 14 to 16 hours and from eight days in 30 to 12 in 30, as well to allow an exemption from the 30-minute rest break provision. The agency, however, rejected the group’s requests to not include waiting time and to extend the weekly limits for on-duty time. The driving time of 11 hours also was not extended.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance opposed the exemption request.

“Advocates oppose the current petition as it is unnecessary and would substantially degrade public safety,” the safety group wrote in its formal comments. “This description falls short of a complete analysis and ignores the underlying reasons for the hours of service and electronic logging device requirements.”

FMCSA said the exemption is in effect only for periods of time when the catering group’s members are operating under a “resource order” or other comparable order issued by a federal government agency. Drivers must have at least 24 consecutive hours off-duty at the completion of camp activities before operating a commercial motor vehicle, and drivers must complete a fatigue management program before operating under the exemption.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate 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 nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.