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Federal trucking regulators have approved grocery giant Transco Inc.’s request for a five-year exemption from the 30-minute hours-of-service rest break provision for the company’s more than 3,500 commercial motor vehicle drivers.
The exemption will preclude all drivers of Transco’s vehicle fleet from the 30-minute break requirement while performing on-duty not-driving tasks, said an Aug. 27 announcement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Transco’s 1,700-vehicle private fleet consists almost exclusively of tractors equipped with sleeper berths, usually pulling 48- or 53-foot trailers. The grocery division operations are similar to shorthaul in that they are low-mileage exposure and have multiple deliveries, the announcement said.
Transco Inc.’s parent, McLane Co. Inc., is one of the nation’s largest entities engaged in supply chain services, catering to convenience stores, mass merchants, drug stores and casual dining restaurants throughout the United States. McLane ranks No. 8 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.It also ranks No. 1 among grocery carriers and No. 4 among food service carriers.
“In most cases, Transco relies on team drivers who alternate during shift deliveries,” the announcement said. “Total trip time averages 17.2 hours. However, total driving time for both drivers combined averages just 9.1 hours. Each driver spends, on average, only 4.55 hours or 32.5% of their shift engaged in driving.”
Transco contends that its operations are characterized by factors that make the driving involved low risk and less susceptible to the type of fatigue associated with longhaul driving.
In its exemption application, Transco said its drivers operate largely on local roads at low speeds, which reduces fatigue risk. Its operations are characterized by multiple short-driving periods interrupted by breaks, which precludes development of time-on-task fatigue and improves driver performance.
Drivers alternate among driving, unloading and resting without spending significant continuous periods of time driving, Transco said.
“The company’s application highlights several additional proactive safety management practices currently in place in connection with its grocery operations,” the announcement said. “These include DriveCam video monitoring, increased safety inspections and meetings, mandatory driver safety training and manufacturer-installed collision avoidance systems on the vehicles.”
FMCSA said it received 10 comments on the exemption application representing individuals and various transportation interests. Most respondents supported the exemption, including the International Foodservice Distributors Association, the Convenience Distribution Association and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, the agency said in the announcement.