Bus/limo/taxi Transportation State laws

Charter bus association latest group to ask for exemption from California meal and rest break rules

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Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a commercial bus industry group’s preemption request concerning California’s meal and rest break rules for commercial drivers.

The American Bus Association on Jan. 10 submitted to FMCSA a petition seeking a federal override of the state’s rules for passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle operators. The regulations entitle the drivers to a 30-minute off-duty mealtime after each five hours of work.

Additionally, “every employer is required to ‘authorize and permit’ all employees to take rest periods, which insofar as practicable shall be in the middle of each work period, at the rate of 10 minutes net rest time per four hours,” according to a notice published in the May 9 Federal Register. Employers aren’t allowed to consider those breaks or rest periods unpaid time or deduct them from pay.

In December, FMCSA granted a similar petition request filed by the American Trucking Associations and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association applying to property-carrying CMV drivers.

Much like the trucking industry’s petition, ABA contends the meal and rest break rules conflict with federal hours-of-service regulations for passenger carriers. In granting the trucking industry’s petition, FMCSA concluded that California’s meal and rest break laws would have “no safety benefits that extended beyond those already provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations.”

“Safety is FMCSA’s top priority, and having uniform rules is a key component to increasing safety for our truck drivers,” FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez said in a Dec. 21 press release.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a group of 19 Democratic lawmakers were among those opposed to the agency’s action.

Comments on ABA’s petition are due June 10.

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