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June 18, 2015 12:00 PM, EDT

FMCSA Grants Meal-Break Exemption to Oversize, Overweight and Bee Haulers

John Murphy/Flickr

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted bee haulers and specialized carriers and drivers carrying oversize and overweight vehicles two-year exemptions from the agency’s 30-minute rest-break mandate.

The exemptions were requested by the California Farm Bureau Federation and the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association.

FMCSA said it granted the oversize/overweight haulers exemption because the hours those trucks travel are restricted by permit requirements, often in conflict with the timing of the required 30-minute rest break.

The SCRA said there is less space available for parking oversize and overweight vehicles, causing those operators transporting the loads to increasingly be parked alongside interstate or other highways and ramp shoulders, compromising safety.

“An average OS/OW load may measure approximately 15 to 16 feet wide and high and in excess of 100 feet in length,” FMCSA’s June 18 Federal Register posting said.

All but five of the 79 commenters on the association’s petition supported the exemption.

One of the comment respondents against granting the heavy and oversize truck exemption, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, commented that none of the measures described by SCRA are related in any way to “the need to combat the acute fatigue of working and driving a vehicle for up to eight hours straight.”

“The FMCSA itself made the case that safety requires a one-half hour break after eight hours on duty, and the application provides no information to either refute or countermand the need for that break time as it applies to OS/OW operators,’’ the safety group said.

The bee hauler exemption was approved “for the health and welfare” of bees, the agency said.

“Because of the reduced number of colonies available, bees are transported long distances to provide crop pollination,” FMCSA said in its announcement due to be filed in the Federal Register on June 19. “CFBF said that honey bees require cool, fresh air to maintain healthful temperatures in the hives when being moved on trucks.”