2013 US Trucking News – OTA Seeks HOS Exemption for Loggers
In today’s FMCSA Federal Register, the FMCSA has announced that the Oregon Trucking Association (OTA) has applied for an exemption from the 30-minute rest break for motor carriers who move and transport timber from Oregon forests, during periods when fire restrictions limit the hours of operation.
The Oregon Trucking Association provides services to help understand government guidelines and implement procedures to meet these compliance and safety standards. From classroom meetings to webinars training to on-site visits and evaluations, the OTA offers members at a wide range of practical and applicable resources.
According to the federal register, the OTA states that lumber mills usually depend on a specific volume of logs in order to stay in business and that these environmental restrictions limit the amount of timber that can be harvested. The OTA also states that at the time of its application, a Level III fire safety restriction has barred CMVs from Oregon forestlands at 1:00 PM daily. The OTA has asserted that the fire-safety restrictions are often in place from July to late October each year. If these logging operators have to leave the forest lands by around 1:00 PM during fire restrictions, then they would need all the available time before 1:00 PM as on-duty time, without a rest break.
The OTA has also asserted that this new 30-minute break requirement makes it impossible for log trucks to provide a sufficient volume of logs to mills when operations are time-limited by fire restrictions. OTA states that those who are eligible for the exemption will reduce their work day from 14 hours to 12 hours, in exchange for the 30-minute break exemption.
The hours-of-service, also known as HOS, are regulations that are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They govern the working hours of anyone that operates a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States. This includes truck drivers, both commercial and city bus drivers, and school bus drivers who operate these CMVs for motor carriers, who are mostly their employers. These rules also limit the number of daily and weekly hours that are spent driving and working, and regulate the minimum amount of time that drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. For interstate commerce, the restrictive state’s regulations always apply.
The main purpose of the HOS is to prevent accidents that are caused by driver’s fatigue. This is accomplished by limiting the number of driver hours per day, and the number of driving and working hours per week. Fatigue is also prevented by keeping truck drivers on a 21-24 hour schedule and maintaining a natural sleep and wake cycle, which is also known as a circadian rhythm. Drivers are also required to take a daily minimum period of rest, and are also allowed long weekend rest periods to fight cumulative fatigue effects that accumulate on a weekly basis.
The drivers’ final rule regarding hours of service was published in the federal register on December 27 2011. The effective date of the final rule was published on February 21 2012, and the compliance date of remaining provisions was published on July 1 2013.