FMCSA considers hours-of-service exemption for truck driver FMCSA considers hours of service exemption for truck driver

FMCSA considers hours-of-service exemption for truck driver

Federal regulators are considering a company truck driver’s request for a sweeping exemption from hours-of-service (HOS) and ELD rules, and the public will have a chance to comment.

In applying for the exemption, Ronnie Brown III, a driver for Waterloo, Iowa-based Gray Transportation, contends that the “one-size-fits-all” aspect of the regulations poses safety risks because the rules do not always coincide with his “natural sleep patterns,” according to his application filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In addition, HOS is a “mechanism by the government to control my movements which I view as a violation of my constitutional right to free movement and my right as a human being to make my own choices in life as to my work habits,” he states in his application, published on Friday.

In its petition notifying the public of the exemption request, FMCSA states that it must publish a notice in the Federal Register.

“The Agency must provide the public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted,” according to FMCSA. “The agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request,” with a 30-day public comment period granted to Brown’s request.

Federal regulations also state that the application must explain not only why the applicant believes the exemption is needed and how the applicant is affected by the rules in question, but “how you would ensure that you could achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained by complying with the regulation.”

The application must also describe “the impacts … you could experience if the exemption is not granted by the FMCSA.”

Those points and other justifications were lacking in Brown’s application, according to Paul Taylor, a managing partner with Truckers Justice Center, which represents truck drivers.

“The petitioner provides no legitimate reasons for why he should have his own personal exemption,” Taylor told FreightWaves. “If the FMCSA grants such an exemption, it would be arbitrary and capricious and, upon review by a Court of Appeals, would likely be reversed or vacated.”

Specifically, Brown is seeking a five-year exemption from federal motor carrier regulations including:

  • 10-consecutive-hour off-duty time requirement.
  • 11-hour driving limit.
  • 14-hour “driving window.”
  • Limits of 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days.
  • ELD regulations.

In addition to safety concerns, Brown’s application focused on the economic effects of HOS rules, asserting that they restrict his work hours and therefore how much he gets paid.

“The 60/70 rule prevents me from working as many days as I want to due to not enough hours per regulations,” Brown states. “That controls how much money I can make in a week while out on the road,” equal to 8.75 hours a day over an eight-day period. “If I work more than that in a day, I will have to sit around in truck stops for 34 hours due to not being able to pick up hours.”

Brown emphasized that he’s seeking an exemption that applies specifically to him, with no bearing on how his employer operates its fleet for other drivers.

Asked how his employee’s exemption — if granted — would affect company operations, Gray Transportation President Darrin Gray told FreightWaves, “I don’t know enough about how a federal hours-of-service exemption for a single employee would work to even comment on that.”

Summing up his exemption request, Brown told FreightWaves, “I’m responsible for everything that I do. I know when I need sleep and I know my reaction times. I don’t need [the government] to tell me those things.”

Will he succeed? “I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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