Propane was overlooked in a FMCSA HOS exemption, but it's now included

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

They forgot propane. But now it’s in there.

FMCSA recently posted a revision to an exemption granted last April from the 30-minute rest break requirement. It follows a request by the National Tank Truck Carriers and the Massachusetts Motor Transport Association

When the exemption was granted, there was a list of “specified fuels” that drivers carrying those products would be allowed to take advantage of the exemption. But propane, a widely-carried fuel, was not on the list.

FMCSA said in a Federal Register notice that was an oversight. “The Agency granted the limited exemption to drivers of (commercial motor vehicles) transporting specified fuels, and failed to include propane gas as a specified fuel,” the Federal Register notice said. But following the request, FMCSA said, the exemption was modified and that oversight was corrected.

The original request and exemption, when the FMCSA notice is read, do reveal just how focused some groups are on the 30-minute rule and other provisions of the Hours of Service. As the FMCSA notice says, most of the carriers pulling the fuels covered under the 100 air mile radius exemption, so they don’t have the 30-minute break requirement as long as they stay within that radius. But they do have a 12-hour time limit, and sometimes, the day’s delivery spills over that.

“If a driver cannot complete his or her duty day within the 12-hour period specified by the 100 air-mile radius exception, he or she must at the first opportunity take a 30-minute rest break,” FMCSA said in its Federal Register notice. That could lead to a truck carrying hazardous materials pulling over to the side of the road for that break, with the obvious concern that such a location isn’t the greatest place for a truck to park.

And as the notice said, which few would disagree with: “It is also difficult to find safe and secure parking for tank trucks on such short notice.”

The 30-minute break exemption had covered all sorts of tank trucks. As a result of the rule, and the corrected oversight, now it covers propane too.

The exemption for tank carriers on the 30-minute rule runs to April 10, 2023.