The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted an hours-of-service exemption to the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association for drivers of certain oversize/overweight vehicles. The agency also has denied another exemption request requested by the group.
SC&RA’s main reasoning behind the exemption requests was the difficulty the drivers face finding parking for such large vehicles, which sometimes forces drivers to park on the shoulders of roads to comply with hours rules, the group says.
FMCSA granted an exemption from the federal 30-minute rest break requirement but denied a request to be exempted of the 14-hour rule. The 30-minute break exemption had already been granted to the association in June 2015 for drivers operating mobile cranes with a lifting capacity of greater than 30 tons. When the FAST Act highway bill was enacted in December 2015, it extended any HOS exemption already in effect to five years from when it was enacted, but it gave FMCSA the authority to limit exemptions to two years.
In the notice to be published in the Federal Register Nov. 1, FMCSA is exercising that authority and issuing a new exemption to SC&RA from the 30-minute rest break requirement for two years until Nov. 1, 2018. The agency says the unpredictable workday for mobile crane operators includes frequent interruptions and downtime, which, it says, reduces the risk of cumulative fatigue.
In the same notice, FMCSA denied a SC&RA request from the 14-hour daily on-duty window. The agency says even though the “30-minute break rule is unnecessarily restrictive for operators of large mobile cranes, the 14-hour window is far less restrictive,” and adds that the 14-hour window is a “critical factor in containing fatigue that might otherwise develop.” FMCSA says the 14-hour window should be built into planning for the operation of mobile cranes.