The American Concrete Pumping Association has become the latest group whose request for exemption from certain hours-of-service rules was honored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
A concrete pump is a machine that is mounted on a truck and used to transfer liquid concrete. According to a document published in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, the exemption relaxes the requirement that shorthaul drivers using the records-of-duty status exception return to their starting location within 12 hours of coming on duty.
FMCSA’s exemption will allow drivers operating concrete pumps to return to their starting point within 14 hours instead of 12. The exemption took effect Nov. 1 and expires Oct. 31, 2023.
“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,” the Federal Register document states.
The pumping group, which represents more than 600 companies and 7,000 workers, compared its work to that of ready-mixed-concrete drivers whose perishable products necessitate time-sensitive hauls.
Furthermore, the association attests that concrete pump operators spend little time driving. According to the Federal Register document, the average concrete pump operator spends 25-32% of his or her shift driving, and daily trips usually are less than 25 miles. The association said that the majority of operators’ time is spent waiting on ready-mixed concrete for them to pump.
“Timing and scheduling are critical to ensure a high-quality result,” the document states. “Allowing concrete-pump drivers to use the shorthaul exception, but return to their reporting location within 14 hours instead of 12 hours, would harmonize the hours-of-service rules for drivers of concrete pumps with the rules for drivers of the vehicles that supply the concrete.”
When FMCSA published the group’s application request in June, the agency opened a period of public comment. The request received four comments. One, from the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, supported the exemption. In a joint comment, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Alliance for Driver Safety and Security (also known as the Trucking Alliance) opposed the exemption.
‘‘The Advocates and the Trucking Alliance oppose the application for exemption on the grounds that the application fails to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of applications for exemption,” their comment states. “The application is defective in several respects since it does not justify the need for the exemption, does not access the safety impacts of the exemption and does not explain or document how an equivalent level of safety would be achieved.”
FMCSA has been receptive to many requests for exemption from HOS rules. The agency granted a similar exemption to Waste Management Holdings Inc. on Oct. 25.
In September, the American Concrete Pavement Association requested exemption from the 30-minute rest-break provision and the shorthaul requirement. Four environmental service companies on Aug. 9 petitioned for a five-year exemption from HOS regulations for drivers involved in providing direct assistance in environmental emergencies.
The agency also has hosted several listening sessions during which members of the trucking industry can discuss concerns and potential changes to HOS rules.