Five States Extend Driving Hours for Heating Fuel Deliveries
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Colorado, North and South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming have declared temporary emergency exemptions of federal driving hours for deliveries of heating fuel.
The Colorado State Patrol on Dec. 20 approved a temporary exemption through Jan. 31 from federal hours-of-service regulations for commercial drivers hauling consumer heating fuels, propane and natural gas.
“Should it become apparent that a driver’s ability or alertness is impaired, or is likely to become impaired by fatigue or illness, the driver must not be allowed to drive. In addition, an ill or fatigued driver shall not operate a commercial motor vehicle,” stated Maj. J.P. Burt of the Colorado State Patrol operational services branch, in a letter posted on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued executive order 2022-11 on Dec. 19 (effective for 30 days) noting that the state is experiencing record winter storms and cold temperatures that is causing significant demand and decreased availability of heating fuels such as diesel fuel, gas, heating oil, propane and natural gas.
Inadequate supplies combined with difficulties faced by transport carriers struggling to meet high demands “poses an immediate risk to public health, safety and welfare.” A state of emergency was declared to ensure that carriers, agribusiness, farmers, ranchers and other consumers can secure, obtain, transport and deliver heating fuel to meet the state’s needs for commercial motor vehicle drivers who are transporting heating fuel to provide direct assistance in emergency relief.
The order states that drivers who engage in commerce or providing services not covered by the order are no longer exempted. All traffic safety and vehicle equipment regulations still apply and will be enforced.
It precludes allowing fatigued drivers to operate a motor vehicle.
“A driver who informs a carrier that she/he needs immediate rest shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before the driver is required to return to duty,” the order noted. “Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by this order until the applicable conditions have been met and the out-of-service order has been rescinded.”
South Dakota’s emergency executive order by Gov. Kristi Noem runs from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15. It noted that state residents “are faced with extremely low inventories and outages of propane and heating fuel” for an unknown time until normal supply flows resume in fuel terminals there.
The order prohibits propane and heating fuel transport companies from requiring or allowing fatigued drivers to operate a motor vehicle. Furthermore, a tired driver who informs a carrier must be given immediate and adequate rest before returning to service.
Gov. Spencer Cox issued the 30-day emergency order Dec. 16 in response to high propane demand in Utah and neighboring states due to frigid temperatures and cold weather conditions. He declared a liquid petroleum gas emergency.
“This order will give drivers the flexibility they need to deliver propane safely and give consumers propane when they need it most,” Cox said. “We’re seeing long lines at loading facilities.”
Executive order 2022-007 stated that drivers delivering propane in Utah must travel hundreds of miles out of route because propane production has decreased during peak season for usage. At the same time, the drop in propane supplies is contributing to long lines at loading facilities.
Not only will temporarily increasing driving times help with propane deliveries, but the order enables drivers to have more time on the road to travel safely in extreme weather instead of trying to rush in wintry conditions to meet federal driving hour requirements.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued executive order 2022-06 on Dec. 15 that lasts through Jan. 14.
“Wyoming has the ability, through an executive order, to make emergency changes in regulations so that the prompt delivery of propane to customers throughout the state is not impeded by restrictions to the hours that can be worked by qualified drivers,” the order declared.
It noted the state is experiencing low propane supplies at refineries due to reduced production while the fuel is needed to heat homes and business while propane transportation and delivery companies are forced to drive further and wait longer at terminals to obtain propane.
As with the other states, Wyoming’s exemption states that propane transportation/delivery companies cannot require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a propane delivery vehicle.
“A driver who informs a carrier that he/she needs immediate rest shall be given adequate rest before the driver is required to return to service,” the order noted.
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