Federal agencies Regulation Hours of service Trucking Transportation

ATA wants override of California’s meal and rest break requirements after PHMSA ruling on hazmat drivers

Photo: EyeMark/iStockphoto

Washington — Three days after the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration determined that hazardous materials transporters do not have to comply with California’s rest and meal break requirements, the American Trucking Associations filed a petition asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to pre-empt the requirements for all commercial motor vehicle drivers.

In a notice published in the Sept. 21 Federal Register, PHMSA states that the California regulations “create an unnecessary delay” for transporting hazardous materials and that the state’s rules are in conflict with the attendance requirements for certain transporters. An attendance requirement means that drivers can be no more than 100 feet away from their CMV, awake and not in a sleeper berth, and with an unobstructed view of said CMV at all times.

The California regulations entitled drivers to a 30-minute mealtime after each five hours of work, but the drivers had to be off duty during that time. Drivers also were allowed a 10-minute rest period for every four hours of work or one hour’s pay for each day that the meal/rest period was not given.

National Tank Truck Carriers Inc. filed a petition in September 2016. It called for PHMSA to determine whether federal law pre-empts the California rules.

“Carriers and drivers no longer have to choose between following the [Hazardous Materials Regulations] to avoid the threat of hazmat releases in densely populated environments or complying with California’s meal and rest break requirements,” NTTC states in a Sept. 20 press release.

California or any other “aggrieved” party has until Oct. 10 to request a reconsideration of the ruling and until Nov. 19 to ask for a judicial review.

In its petition, sent Sept. 27, the American Trucking Associations claims California’s rules are incompatible with federal hours-of-service rules, and would add “at a conservative estimate, 80 minutes of additional non-productive time to a 10-hour day beyond the requirements of the federal HOS rules.” The organization also asserts that “by arbitrarily forcing trucks off the road more frequently, state rules like California’s also contribute to a critical shortage of truck parking, with serious safety implications.”

The petition is open for public comment until Oct. 29.

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