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FMCSA considers hours-of-service exemption for truck driver

Applicant cites safety concerns, constitutional rights violations in seeking waiver

Federal regulators are considering a company truck driver’s request for a sweeping exemption from hours-of-service (HOS) and ELD rules, and the public will have a chance to comment.

In applying for the exemption, Ronnie Brown III, a driver for Waterloo, Iowa-based Gray Transportation, contends that the “one-size-fits-all” aspect of the regulations poses safety risks because the rules do not always coincide with his “natural sleep patterns,” according to his application filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In addition, HOS is a “mechanism by the government to control my movements which I view as a violation of my constitutional right to free movement and my right as a human being to make my own choices in life as to my work habits,” he states in his application, published on Friday.

In its petition notifying the public of the exemption request, FMCSA states that it must publish a notice in the Federal Register.

“The Agency must provide the public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted,” according to FMCSA. “The agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request,” with a 30-day public comment period granted to Brown’s request.

Federal regulations also state that the application must explain not only why the applicant believes the exemption is needed and how the applicant is affected by the rules in question, but “how you would ensure that you could achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained by complying with the regulation.”

The application must also describe “the impacts … you could experience if the exemption is not granted by the FMCSA.”

Those points and other justifications were lacking in Brown’s application, according to Paul Taylor, a managing partner with Truckers Justice Center, which represents truck drivers.

“The petitioner provides no legitimate reasons for why he should have his own personal exemption,” Taylor told FreightWaves. “If the FMCSA grants such an exemption, it would be arbitrary and capricious and, upon review by a Court of Appeals, would likely be reversed or vacated.”

Specifically, Brown is seeking a five-year exemption from federal motor carrier regulations including:

  • 10-consecutive-hour off-duty time requirement.
  • 11-hour driving limit.
  • 14-hour “driving window.”
  • Limits of 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days.
  • ELD regulations.

In addition to safety concerns, Brown’s application focused on the economic effects of HOS rules, asserting that they restrict his work hours and therefore how much he gets paid.

“The 60/70 rule prevents me from working as many days as I want to due to not enough hours per regulations,” Brown states. “That controls how much money I can make in a week while out on the road,” equal to 8.75 hours a day over an eight-day period. “If I work more than that in a day, I will have to sit around in truck stops for 34 hours due to not being able to pick up hours.”

Brown emphasized that he’s seeking an exemption that applies specifically to him, with no bearing on how his employer operates its fleet for other drivers.

Asked how his employee’s exemption — if granted — would affect company operations, Gray Transportation President Darrin Gray told FreightWaves, “I don’t know enough about how a federal hours-of-service exemption for a single employee would work to even comment on that.”

Summing up his exemption request, Brown told FreightWaves, “I’m responsible for everything that I do. I know when I need sleep and I know my reaction times. I don’t need [the government] to tell me those things.”

Will he succeed? “I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

96 Comments

  1. Hos should be completely done away with for truckers. They are professional drivers and grown adults, let them do there job without pressure of a certain number of hours to do it in, the 34 hour reset is completely inhumane if a driver doesn’t feel like sitting stopped for 34 hours they shouldn’t have to and if they feel like stopping to take a nap they should be able to without having to worry about a 14 hour clock running out and having to take another 10 hour break.

  2. As a truck driver of 37 years, I’m considering stake in the same exemption from our hours of service regulations. The way they have it The way the system is set up now it is very unsafe. Also, I’ve only had three logbook violations in 37 years. Regardless of the ETA of the load that I have, if I’m tired I stop. I know how long I can drive on watch sleep that I’ve gotten. Basically, a man’s got to know his limitations. And I know mine

  3. HOS needs to be put to the grave. It is unconstitutional and very dangerous to make a law and punish a biological person to go to sleep when his body is not designed by the nature to go to sleep. When the govt tells the trucker to go to sleep at 11am during the day and start working when the nature designed him to sleep. I bet everything in my life that: no shipper/receiver, broker, dispatcher, company’s boss, any fmcsa employee, sea port worker or captain of the ship go to sleep or piss by the logbook. We are the only breed in entire logistics that get slaughtered. These idiots experimenting with our health by changing the hours our body work and gets rest. Who will be reliable when my body chemistry changes and I die or develop some health issues because of it? Its 3:53 am, I went to sleep at 7pm, woke up at 1am because Im fully recovered but I have to wait for the clock to allow my life to start. This is insanity, Hitler would be very proud you all. Burn in hell, idiots.

  4. What he says makes complete sense. Each individual sleeps differently. There can’t and shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach.
    I am disappointed that the Truckers “Justice” Center doesn’t support him.

  5. I need 5-6hrs of sleep during 24hrs. I have never slept more than 8hrs even when i was a teenager. But i need a nap around 10am-11am and am forced to drive because of HOS rules – clock is ticking.

  6. My biggest concern is the dispatcher the way they are pooshing drivers if you don’t collaborate with them you get punished I have to stop OTR because of that

  7. I was a over the road drive. I quit driving truck because of the 11 hour rule. I would drive my 11 hours. Now I need to take a 10 hour break. So I would sit in a truck stop watching tv for the next 6-7 hrs. Another hr to eat and shower. Now it’s time to sleep. I been up about 18 hrs. That leaves me with 2 hours of sleep. Try it. Get up and 10 hrs later take a shower and eat and go back to sleep.

  8. I’ve been driving since we all used paper logs and I like the idea. I have a clean record and think it is unfair for drivers that have clean records to be forced to use elogs. There are small companies that are forced to use elogs when all the drivers have clean records. Why must the responsible driver pay the price for irresponsible drivers. I have been on elogs 4 years now and I am exhausted all the time because I can’t sleep when I want or need to. Let’s try his way.

    1. Yes is true why do we the drivers that have clean driving recird and no log violation have to take other idiots problems, I see that if you have log violations and a bad driving record they shoul be doin elogs

    2. They need to take a good look of the health impacts on drivers that are on elds no eating because they had no time left to get to a proper place to eat and rest stopping and have to sleep this out of the road then holding it not been able to go to the bathroom for 8 hours plus sometimes not only is it unhealthy for the driver but the public in general that has to drive down the interstate when trucks are parked 3 in off the road in some cases not even that I’ll talk to drivers that have had to park 2 mi away from a truck stop for a restaurant because they would be in violation if they got to that facility that stopped and there was no parking and they had to pull back out so you can’t utilize your full 11 hours driving most days you risk a chance of going in violation if you can’t find parking.

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John Gallagher

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.