• ITVI.USA
    15,746.290
    48.010
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    23.890
    0.480
    2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,748.000
    48.490
    0.3%
  • TLT.USA
    2.810
    0.010
    0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.640
    0.250
    7.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.680
    -0.160
    -5.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.450
    -0.060
    -4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.300
    0.010
    0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.020
    0.040
    2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.030
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    132.000
    7.000
    5.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,746.290
    48.010
    0.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    23.890
    0.480
    2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,748.000
    48.490
    0.3%
  • TLT.USA
    2.810
    0.010
    0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.640
    0.250
    7.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.680
    -0.160
    -5.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.450
    -0.060
    -4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.300
    0.010
    0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.020
    0.040
    2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.030
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    132.000
    7.000
    5.6%
Driver issuesGig WorkersNewsTrucking Regulation

FMCSA rules Washington state can no longer enforce meal/rest break laws

Ruling follows similar determination made in 2018 with regard to California, which is under appeal

Federal regulators have determined that the state of Washington’s meal and rest break (MRB) laws are preempted for commercial trucks subject to federal hours of service (HOS) regulations.

In a decision to be published Tuesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted a petition filed last year by the Washington Trucking Associations (WTA) requesting the agency make the determination.

FMCSA concluded that:

  1. Washington’s MRB rules are state laws or regulations “on commercial motor vehicle safety,” to the extent they apply to drivers of property-carrying CMVs subject to FMCSA’s HOS rules.
  2. Washington’s MRB rules are additional to or more stringent than FMCSA’s HOS rules.
  3. Washington’s MRB rules have no safety benefit.
  4. Washington’s MRB rules are incompatible with FMCSA’s HOS rules.
  5. Enforcement of Washington’s MRB rules would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

“Accordingly, FMCSA grants WTA’s petition for preemption and determines that Washington’s MRB rules are preempted pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 31141,” the agency stated.

FMCSA received and considered 33 comments on the petition, with 24 commenters supporting preemption and nine opposing.

The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), a major shipper group and one of the supporters of WTA’s petition, noted that the Washington’s break rules were similar to those of California’s, which FMCSA in December 2018 determined to be pre-empted under federal HOS rules. NITL points out that the two states require a 30-minute break for every five-hour work period and a 10-minute break for every four-hour work period.

Federal HOS rules – made more flexible earlier this year – require a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break.

“More significantly, the employer’s obligations with regard to breaks appears to be higher in Washington than in California by putting the onus onto employers to ensure the employee does no work during their breaks rather than having that be the responsibility of the employee,” NITL argued.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which opposed preemption, took issue with WTA’s assertion that Washington’s meal and rest break rules undermine safety “by artificially exacerbating the shortage of safe truck parking” making it more likely that drivers “will have to spend additional time looking for parking when they need rest, or resort to unsafe places to park.”

“In our experience, a much larger threat faced by truck drivers is that they are discouraged from taking rest breaks as allowed under federal law because they fear punishment from their employers if they don’t complete a run on time, or because they are paid by the mile and would rather push their bodies to the limit in order to earn extra pay,” the Teamsters Union asserted.

The union argued that Washington’s rules actually improve safety because they ensure drivers “have alternative legal protections in place helping to guard them against predatory companies who would rather pressure drivers into not taking a break, even when the driver feels it is physically necessary to do so.”

The Teamsters, which is appealing the FMCSA’s decision in the California case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, last week filed a petition with the court seeking a delay in oral arguments until after Joe Biden is sworn into office on Jan. 20.

Related articles:

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher

John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

14 Comments

  1. Treatment of truck drivers and pay must improve
    I can not understand why companies do not think truck drivers should get paid like other people for all hours worked.

    1. trucking now lost cost! to many involved that don’t no nothing but what they read out of a book. More they talk about what should a drive should do the wores it gets.
      The smart man that made a lawbook that controls the driver when he can break or rest is a idiot. Got driving speeding down the road half sleepy trying to beat the clock that was real smart move. My 30 years and still driving never had these problems cause I’m tried I stop .

    2. Drivers are being treated just like they ask to be treated. How ? Easy they act like idiots, can’t communicate in person, dress like they live in the dumpster in a truck stop and when they do communicate every third work is profanity. That is how they are treated. Like uneducated dumpster diving homeless dopes. they as for this treatment by the way the present them to to the shippers and receivers and the public. It is earned. Just like back in the day truckers earned the title of Knights of the road, An honor then. Todays drivers have erased that title from trucking..

  2. I personally feel that people that have never been in the semi driving business. Shouldn’t be allowed to make laws for those who do. Haven’t been there! Haven’t done that! So what do they really know about what these men and women go through every single day.

    1. So I guess there should be zero laws on the books then? What a stupid comment, so no farming laws unless you’ve been a farmer either, or Any other laws unless you’ve been involved in the field. It doesn’t seem that you know how legislation works, ordinarily people from both sides i.e. the business side and the employee side are allowed to give their expert or witness testimony and those concerns are molded into laws. Our biggest issue with laws are, the business side has been winning the argument for the last 40 years and a little man is been left behind.

  3. You all just stick to your 9-5s and just let us drivers handle what we need to do. We are regulated enough without these states adding to the time burdens we already have. Personally prior to driving professionally I worked 24-48 hrs straight. So hrs of working doesn’t bother me. You have a lot of veterans and former first responders who now drive truck, and if you think we don’t know our bodies limits then you have another thing coming. Last thing we need is some other pencil pusher telling us what we need. Until you get out here and do what we do and deal with what we deal with, you have no room to tell us what we need to do or have to do! Speaking of safety, why don’t you make all licensed drivers take a cdl class and test so they truly see what we deal with. Shut down left lanes to cars and give them to trucks and stop dropping our speed limits 15-20 mph under those of which cars run. We actually have a time restriction. For everything we do. You want to do something to protect our safety? Get out here and see what we deal with daily then do something.

  4. Oldfieldm78@gmail.com, trucking industry you will never get it!!! Its real simple pay the dam driver from the time he,or she leaves the house, until they get back , da!!!

  5. Soon all trucking will be done by AI. The whole goods and services industry will be. Soon you will do all shopping from a computer, even food. Amazon will have robots pull orders and robots to drive the trucks. Welcome to the new world order. Remember guns don’t kill people…. Governments do!

  6. If they want to enforce rules such as breaks every 2 hours. They need to make more places to stop in Cities. It canntake you 4 hours to go though a city and alot of times there is no shoulder to stop on.

    If they want to enforce this they need to FIRST make it mandatory that at least 100 trucks can stop every few miles on major interstates and highways.

    They vastly underestimate how much truck traffic goea in and out of cities.

  7. I have one question for you drivers. With all the bitching and moaning and crybaby sniffles poor me and blame laying how many of you self proclaimed transportation experts have called, or written the FMCSA and expressed your disfavor with the HOS and suggested a workable safe alternate system? I bet not one of you has.. How many have explained how unsafe it is? Have you explained that this HOS being pushed upon trucking is a one size fit all and OTR trucking just does not work that way. If you have not contacted them either by Email , Letter or in their comment period I have one suggestion for those that don’t or wont. . GET THE HELL OUT OF TRUCKING. it is not for you. If you can’t lift a finger to fix the holes in this dike you need to go else where and find a career you do fit in.For those of you that do try to fix it and offer talking points and communicate , Thank you.

  8. The state should educate 4 wheel drivers to respect big trucks
    They dont have an idea that a truck its hard to stop and they dont care.
    Also in construccion zone there is a lot of signs telling people to slow down its seems to be the opposite the speed up more even truck drives.
    If you slow down they think you are afraid or scared and they keep driving very close to you that make no sense
    Be carefull out there its a jungle…
    Things are going craze…God Bless Truck Drives …bye.

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