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Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA)

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking

Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA)

Daphne Y. Jefferson
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
27 October 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 207 (Friday, October 27, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 49923-49924]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-23348]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2017-0175]


Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; Pipe Line 
Contractors Association (PLCA)

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

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

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to deny the application of the 
Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) from the requirement that a 
motor carrier install and require each of its drivers to use an 
electronic logging device (ELD) to record the driver's hours-of-service 
(HOS) no later than December 18, 2017. PLCA had requested the exemption 
for all pipeline contractor vehicle drivers who typically use the 
short-haul exception to the logging requirement, which also exempts 
them from using ELDs. Sometimes, however, they may exceed the 
conditions of the short-haul exception more than 8 days in a 30-day 
period, which would subject them to the ELD rule. FMCSA has analyzed 
the exemption application and public comments, and has determined that 
the applicant would not achieve a level of safety that is equivalent 
to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such 
exemption. FMCSA therefore denies PLCA's application for exemption.

DATES: FMCSA denied the application for exemption by letter dated 
October 16, 2017, after notice and opportunity for public comment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information concerning this 
notice, contact Mr. Thomas Yager, Chief, FMCSA Driver and Carrier 
Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety 
Standards; Telephone: 614-942-6477. Email: MCPSD@dot.gov. If you have 
questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact 
Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs). 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,

[[Page 49924]]

including any safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must 
also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request.
    FMCSA 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 reason for the grant or denial, and, if granted, 
the specific person or class of persons receiving the exemption, and 
the regulatory provision or provisions from which exemption is granted. 
The notice must also specify the effective period of the exemption (up 
to 5 years), and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The 
exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Request for Exemption

    The PLCA is an industry trade association that negotiates labor 
agreements, encourages safe practices in pipeline construction, and 
seeks the resolution of problems common to those in the pipeline 
construction industry. PLCA has been in existence since 1948 and 
currently has 77 members who collectively employ approximately 30,000 
to 40,000 workers depending upon the level of pipeline work in any 
year. The drivers who would be covered under the exemption operate 
flatbed trucks that haul heavy equipment, dump trucks, skid trucks, 
water trucks, pilot cars and buses that transport workers from the 
assembly point to the pipeline right-of-way. These drivers possess CDLs 
and almost always operate within 100 miles of their assembly point, and 
meet the other requirements of the short haul exception in 49 CFR 
395.1(e)(1). However, the drivers may not return within the 12 hours 
required for use of the short-haul exception.
    According to PLCA, exempting pipeline contractors from the ELD 
requirement would have no impact on safety for several reasons. First, 
drivers would continue to maintain written RODS on any day that they 
exceed the requirements of the short-haul exemption. Second, pipeline 
contractor drivers typically spend very little time operating on public 
roads. Third, pipeline contractors are required to maintain time 
records for their drivers. Finally, pipeline contractors and drivers 
otherwise must comply with all the HOS regulations. PLCA stated that 
granting this exemption would result in a level of safety that is equal 
to or greater than the level of safety achieved by complying with the 
ELD rule. A copy of the PLCA application for exemption is available in 
the docket for this notice.

Public Comments

    On July 10, 2017, FMCSA published notice of PLCA's application for 
exemption and requested public comment (82 FR 31796). The Agency 
received 156 comments to the docket. The predominance of the 
commenters--over 96%--supported the granting of the PLCA request; most 
of these were ``form letter'' comments. Primary groups filing in 
support included the Power and Communication Contractors Associations 
(PCCA), American Pipeline Contractors Association, U.S. Pipeline, Inc., 
and the American Road and Transport Builders Association (ARTBA). The 
two primary groups filing in opposition were the Advocates for Highway 
and Auto Safety (Advocates) and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver's 
Association (OOIDA).
    The Advocates expressed concern that the success of the ELD mandate 
lies in its applicability to all CMVs operated by drivers subject to 
the HOS and RODS. Despite this, the FMCSA has made great efforts to 
accommodate various aspects of the industry while maintaining safety. 
In the present case, despite having an existing exemption in the 
regulation, PLCA claims that to even comply with the exemption is 
onerous. The Agency has established a limit on the extent of the 
exemption which must be enforced, lest the final rule is rendered 
meaningless.
    Advocates further added that PLCA had provided no proof that the 
requested exemption would ensure safety or address the Agency's 
concerns regarding noncompliance with the HOS regulations when using 
paper RODS.
    All comments are available for review in the docket for this 
notice.

FMCSA Decision

    When FMCSA published the rule mandating ELDs it relied upon 
research indicating that the rule improves CMV safety by improving 
compliance with the HOS rules. The rule also reduces the overall 
paperwork burden for both motor carriers and drivers. The primary 
reason for denying this exemption is that PLCA did not demonstrate how, 
without using ELDs, they would maintain a level of safety equivalent 
to, or greater than, the level achieved without the exemption.
    For these reasons, FMCSA denies the applicant's request for 
exemption.

    Issued on: October 16, 2017.
Daphne Y. Jefferson,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2017-23348 Filed 10-26-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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