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Hours of Service of Drivers: Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA); Application for Exemption

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Hours of Service of Drivers: Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA); Application for Exemption

T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
June 18, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 117 (Thursday, June 18, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34957-34959]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-15018]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2014-0420]


Hours of Service of Drivers: Specialized Carriers & Rigging 
Association (SC&RA); Application for Exemption

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition; grant of application for 
exemption.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to grant the Specialized Carriers 
& Rigging Association (SC&RA) an exemption from the minimum 30-minute 
rest break provision of the Agency's hours-of-service (HOS) regulations 
for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The exemption enables all 
specialized carriers and drivers responsible for the transportation of 
loads that exceed normal weight and dimensional limits--oversize/
overweight (OS/OW) loads--and require a permit issued by a government 
authority, to be exempt from the 30-minute rest break provision in 49 
CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii). FMCSA has analyzed the exemption application and 
the public comments and has determined that the exemption, subject to 
the terms and conditions imposed, will achieve a level of safety that 
is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved 
absent such exemption.

DATES: The exemption is effective June 18, 2015 and expires on June 18, 
2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Richard Clemente, FMCSA Driver and 
Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle 
Safety Standards; Telephone: 202-366-4325. Email: MCPSD@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Regulations. FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in 
the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the 
public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the 
application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. 
The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the 
request.
    The Agency reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, 
and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a 
level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application 
and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving 
the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is 
granted. The notice must also specify the effective period of the 
exemption (up to 2 years) and explain the terms and conditions of the 
exemption. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Request for Exemption

    The SC&RA is an international trade association of nearly 1,300 
member companies from 43 nations. SC&RA members are involved in 
specialized transportation, machinery moving and erecting, industrial 
maintenance, millwrighting, and crane rigging, operation, 
manufacturing, and rental.
    SC&RA requests an exemption from the 30-minute rest break provision 
in 49 CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii). The exemption

[[Page 34958]]

would apply industry-wide to all specialized carriers and drivers 
responsible for the transportation of loads exceeding standard legal 
weight and dimensional limits--oversize/overweight (OS/OW) loads--that 
require a permit issued by a government authority. According to SC&RA, 
the 30-minute break uniquely affects OS/OW loads and has exacerbated 
the number of instances in which drivers have had to park these loads 
at roadside, impacting the safety of both the general public and the 
driver. The hours of operation in which a driver may move an OS/OW load 
on a valid permit vary from State to State, and among local 
jurisdictions within a State. Because hours in which an OS/OW load can 
travel are restricted by permit requirements, often those hours are in 
conflict with the timing of the required 30-minute rest break.
    According to SC&RA, as less space is available for parking OS/OW 
vehicles, specialized tractor/trailer combinations transporting OS/OW 
loads will increasingly be parked alongside interstate or other 
highways and ramp shoulders, further compromising safety. An average 
OS/OW load may measure approximately 15-16 feet wide and high and in 
excess of 100 feet in length. Occasionally, the safest option for 
drivers is to park such loads on the shoulders of interstate routes and 
other highways, and on ramps leading to and from those highways. This 
decision requires the driver to protect and alert the motoring public 
by employing traffic control measures such as setting up safety cones. 
In some instances, the OS/OW load is so large and/or the shoulder width 
is so limited, that the tractor-trailer combination cannot be properly 
parked off the roadway and therefore occupies an entire lane of the 
road.
    SC&RA states that the industry has been diligent in ensuring that 
its drivers are safety-compliant by identifying, deploying, analyzing 
and monitoring best practices. The effectiveness of the industry's 
efforts is substantiated through its safety record. By demand and due 
to the type and nature of the size and weight involved, these drivers 
tend to be more experienced and skilled than many drivers in the 
industry. Safety is achieved through rigorous, mandated training for 
all drivers on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis in 
conjunction with annual safety checks, and self-imposed random safety 
audits. Furthermore, most specialized transportation carriers conduct 
weekly--or sometimes more frequent--meetings with drivers to ensure 
that they are current on information with regard to operating OS/OW 
loads in their industry.
    Further details regarding SC&RA's safety controls can be found in 
its application for exemption. The application can be accessed in the 
docket identified at the beginning of this notice. SC&RA does not 
foresee any negative impact to safety from the requested exemption. It 
believes that granting the exemption would have a favorable impact on 
overall safety by reducing the frequency of drivers resorting to less 
than ideal parking options, thereby reducing the frequency of lanes 
being partially or fully blocked.
    The proposed exemption would be effective for 2 years, the maximum 
period allowed by Sec.  381.300.

Public Comments

    On November 24, 2014, FMCSA published notice of this application, 
and asked for public comment (79 FR 69983); 79 responses were 
submitted. Comments in favor of the proposed exemption were submitted 
by the California Construction Trucking Association (CCTA); Dawes 
Rigging & Crane Rental Inc.; Mammoet USA South Inc.; Miller Transfer; 
the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA); Suit-Kote 
Corporation; and 42 individuals and truck drivers.
    CCTA stated that it ``encourages FMCSA to grant the exemption from 
the 30-minute break requirement (49 CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii)) requested by 
SC&RA because we believe granting the exemption request will achieve 
the same level of safety benefit when compared to those drivers still 
mandated to take the break.''
    OOIDA concurred ``with the request for exemption of the 30-minute 
break requirement submitted by the SCRA. The exemption request, which 
addresses a number of concerns raised by OOIDA members with the 2013 
changes to the hours-of-service regulations, would provide a level of 
safety equal to or greater than that achieved without the exemption. 
Oversize/Overweight loads present challenges for the driver and all 
other parties involved in the movement of the load.''
    Ms. Tiffany Myhre commented that ``I support the exemption filed by 
SC&RA regarding the 30 minute break requirement for carriers hauling 
oversize/overweight loads under a permit. This break can cause concerns 
when we have DPS escorts that are trying to push us through the 30 
minute break.''
    The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the International 
Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) were among 26 respondents that did 
not explicitly support or oppose the proposed exemption. Many of the 
individual respondents commented on the impracticality of the 30-minute 
rule and the unintended consequences it entails.
    The ATA wrote that ``The safety of the industry and the driving 
public is better served by rules that encourage flexibility to drive 
when alert and to make decisions to reduce risk. Furthermore, by 
crafting and enforcing a rigid rule that doesn't account for diversity 
of trucking operations, FMCSA is forced to expend additional valuable 
resources to address the myriad of exemption requests seeking the 
additional flexibility that should have been addressed during the 
rulemaking process.''
    A commenter who identified himself as Arthur P. stated that ``Most 
routes on 2 lane roads have no parking for trucks let alone a truck 
with an OS load. States like Ohio and Pennsylvania will not allow you 
off your route for fuel or food let alone a DOT required break. If you 
stop before you enter Ohio for your 30 minute break, you might not have 
enough time to cross Ohio. Then you will be in violation of Ohio law 
because you have nowhere to stop.''
    The IUOE recommended that ``the FMCSA undertake a study of the 
safety and health benefits of a 30-minute break for operators of 
specialized CMVs in the construction industry before making a 
determination on the SCRA's request for an exemption.'' IUOE also urged 
``the FMCSA to study the extent to which the SCRA's primary 
justification for the exemption from the rule--i.e., the alleged 
greater danger created by the limited availability of commercial 
vehicle parking spaces--is factually accurate for most OS/OW loads for 
which a permit is required given the distances typically travelled. 
Without this, information, the FMCSA is in no position to evaluate 
whether the SCRA has met its burden of proof.''
    The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) were among 
the five respondents who opposed the exemption. The Advocates commented 
that ``None of the measures described by SCRA are related in any way to 
the need to combat the acute fatigue of working and driving a vehicle 
for up to eight hours straight. The FMCSA itself made the case that 
safety requires a one-half hour break after eight hours on duty, and 
the Application provides no information to either refute or countermand 
the need for that break time as it applies to OS/OW operators.''
    A commenter identified only as Trish said that ``All drivers are 
faced with the

[[Page 34959]]

challenge of finding refuge for the required 30 minute break, whether 
it's from traffic or fear of life in some instances. Continuing to 
grant exemptions defeats the purpose of the rule and is unfair to grant 
on the basis of someone's business model. Choosing to haul cattle, 
household OR oversize should not exempt carriers from the rules and 
regulations enacted to promote safety.''

FMCSA Decision

    FMCSA has evaluated SC&RA's application and the public comments and 
decided to grant the exemption. The arguments against the exemption are 
not trivial. While livestock may be physically endangered if the 
vehicle transporting them has to stop while the driver takes a 30-
minute break--as recognized in the exemption granted to livestock 
haulers (79FR 33634, June 11, 2014)--the same cannot be said of OS/OW 
loads. It is also true that parking shortages affect drivers of many 
types of vehicle. Nonetheless, finding suitable parking for trucks with 
OS/OW loads is particularly difficult, as SC&RA pointed out, and the 
default option is likely to be parking on the shoulder of a highway, 
with the load sometimes extending into the lanes of traffic. No matter 
how well marked, trucks parked at roadside, especially at night, are 
too often mistaken for moving vehicles and struck, frequently with 
fatal consequences, before an inattentive driver can correct his 
mistake. Based on available information, the number of such crashes 
likely to occur during a 30-minute break cannot be estimated, but the 
Agency has concluded that drivers of OS/OW vehicles are at least as 
likely to be involved in a crash while parked at roadside during a 30-
minute break as while driving during that same period and the hour or 
so thereafter, where the break typically has the greatest benefit. 
FMCSA has therefore decided to grant the exemption, subject to the 
terms and conditions outlined below.

Terms of the Exemption

    1. Drivers of specialized loads moving in interstate commerce that 
exceed normal weight and dimensional limits--oversize/overweight (OS/
OW) loads--and require a permit issued by a government authority, are 
exempt from the requirement for a 30-minute rest break in Sec.  
395.3(a)(3)(ii). Drivers of loads not moving in interstate commerce are 
not eligible for this exemption.
    2. Drivers must have a copy of this exemption document in their 
possession while operating under the terms of the exemption. The 
exemption document must be presented to law enforcement officials upon 
request.
    3. All motor carriers operating under this exemption must have a 
``Satisfactory'' safety rating with FMCSA, or be ``unrated.'' Motor 
carriers with ``Conditional'' or ``Unsatisfactory'' FMCSA safety 
ratings are prohibited from using this exemption.
    4. All motor carriers operating under this exemption must have 
Safety Measurement System (SMS) scores below FMCSA's intervention 
thresholds, as displayed at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/.

Period of the Exemption

    This exemption from the requirements of 49 CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii) is 
granted for the period from 12:01 a.m., June 18, 2015 through 11:59 
p.m., June 18, 2017.

 Extent of the Exemption

    This exemption is limited to the provisions of 49 CFR 
395.3(a)(3)(ii). These drivers must comply with all other applicable 
provisions of the FMCSRs.

Preemption

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315(d), during the period this 
exemption is in effect, no State shall enforce any law or regulation 
that conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption with respect 
to a firm or person operating under the exemption.

Notification to FMCSA

    Any motor carrier utilizing this exemption must notify FMCSA within 
5 business days of any accident (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5), involving 
any of the motor carrier's CMV drivers operating under the terms of 
this exemption. The notification must include the following 
information:
    a. Name of operating motor carrier and USDOT number,
    b. Date of the accident,
    c. City or town, and State, in which the accident occurred, or 
closest to the accident scene,
    d. Driver's name and license number and State of issuance,
    e. Vehicle number and State license plate number,
    f. Number of individuals suffering physical injury,
    g. Number of fatalities,
    h. The police-reported cause of the accident,
    i. Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws 
or motor carrier safety regulations, and
    j. The driver's total driving time and total on-duty time period 
prior to the accident.
    Reports filed under this provision shall be emailed to 
MCPSD@DOT.GOV.

Termination

    FMCSA believes carriers transporting OS/OW loads under permit will 
continue to maintain their previous safety record while operating under 
this exemption. However, should problems occur, FMCSA will take all 
steps necessary to protect the public interest, including revocation or 
restriction of the exemption. The FMCSA will immediately revoke or 
restrict the exemption for failure to comply with its terms and 
conditions.

    Issued on: June 8, 2015.
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-15018 Filed 6-17-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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