ATA Seeks Permanent HOS Provision Exemption for Hazmat Loads

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) continues its long-term battle against the federal Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules, by applying for a permanent exemption with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This is a two-front strategy, as ATA continues to work with Congress to bar the Agency from using appropriated funds to enforce the controversial provisions.

Specifically, ATA has filed for a permanent exemption from the federal HOS regulations that prohibit commercial motor vehicle drivers from driving a CMV if more than 8 consecutive hours have passed since the driver’s last off-duty, or sleeper berth period of 30 minutes or more. ATA is requesting the exemption on behalf of all motor carriers that transport hazardous materials (HM) shipments requiring security plans under regulations of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

These plans normally require a driver to “attend” such cargo while the CMV is stopped, which would be an on-duty activity. This forces drivers to choose between FMCSA's off-duty rest break requirement and compliance with PHMSA's security plans, many of include an on-duty “attendance” requirement. ATA proposes that drivers transporting HM for motor carriers required to file security plans be allowed to count their on-duty “attendance” time for any HM cargo toward the required 30-minute rest break requirement, provided the drivers perform no other on-duty activity. The exemption would thus resemble Section 397.7, which requires drivers transporting certain explosives constantly to “attend” their load, while Section 395.1(q) allows them to count “attendance” time toward their rest break.

FMCSA requests public comments on the request for exemption.