American Trucking Associations has applied for an exemption on behalf of a group of hazmat drivers to the hours-of-service rule on 30-minute breaks.
Currently, the drivers are caught between conflicting federal rules and best practices for hazmat haulers.
HOS rules say that commercial motor vehicle drivers may not drive more than eight consecutive hours without taking a 30-minute rest period.
During that period, drivers are supposed to be off duty and not responsible for the truck or any other duties such as loading, unloading or paperwork.
However, hazmat drivers often haul shipments that require “security plans” under the regulations of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
“These plans normally require a driver to ‘attend’ such cargo while the CMV is stopped, which would be an on-duty activity,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in a notice about the ATA request that was filed in the May 1 Federal Register.
This forces drivers to choose between FMCSA’s off-duty rest break rule and compliance with PHMSA’s security plans, many of which include an on-duty “attendance” requirement, FMCSA said.
“ATA proposes that drivers transporting [hazmat] for motor carriers required to file security plans be allowed to count their on-duty ‘attendance’ time for any [hazmat] cargo toward the required 30-minute rest break requirement, provided the drivers perform no other on-duty activity,” the register notice said.
ATA initially asked, in 2013, that FMCSA “clarify that drivers can exercise constant attendance over a vehicle without having to remain on duty,” the agency’s Federal Register notice said.
“After discussion with agency officials, however, ATA agreed that its request should be treated as an exemption application,” FMCSA said.
The agency will take public comments on the ATA request until June 1.