Waste Management applies for HOS exemption to increase hours for short-haul drivers

  (Photo: Waste Management Holdings)

(Photo: Waste Management Holdings)

Waste Management Holdings has applied for an hours of service exemption, asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to consider allowing its drivers to work extra hours without losing short-haul status.

Drivers can operate under the HOS short-turn exemption if they have returned to their starting point and are off the clock within 12 hours of beginning their workday. These drivers are also restricted to a 100-air-mile radius and required to take 10 hours off between shifts.

Drivers with this exemption do not have to maintain record of duty status in the vehicle. However, if a driver works over 12 hours, they must prepare records for the entire day, often by way of ELD, according to a FMCSA notice about the application.

WMH is asking FMCSA to grant a 5-year exemption that would allow 18,000 of its drivers in 84 subsidiaries or affiliates to work up to 14 hours each shift without losing short-haul status.

“These drivers routinely qualify for the short-haul exception,” the FMCSA notice reads. “However, occasionally they cannot complete their duty day within 12 hours.”

WMH said ELDs cause delays and distractions in its vehicles because of the stop-and-go nature of trash pick-up, noting that ELDs do not have “a provision for blocking service time.”

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The company told FMCSA that its drivers end up having to interact with the devices “hundreds if not thousands of times a day,” impacting driver and community safety.

WMH pointed out that some drivers are already permitted to work up to 14 hours per shift without losing short-haul status, including those dealing with ready-made concrete and asphalt paving.

“[The application] asserts that WMH’s operations are similar to these industries because its drivers ‘spend a significant portion of their days conducting non-driving duties,’” the FMCSA notice reads. “It states that WMH anticipates‘ ‘no reduction in safety from the exemption requested, and a potential for increased safety due to reduced [driver] distraction.’”

WMH attributed this sustained safety to its internal fatigue management program. The program utilizes video cameras to record things like aggressive braking, steering and acceleration.

“When WMH’s assessment of the recording indicates that driver fatigue is involved, WMH managers may discipline the driver,” the FMCSA report states. “More commonly, WMH managers assess the driver’s overall lifestyle and health, including his or her off-duty activities and medical history, and counsel the individual on changes he or she can undertake to ameliorate fatigue.”

The program also includes managers riding along with drivers several times each year, according to the notice.

FMCSA will accept public comments concerning WMH’s application through Aug. 16. Visit FMSCA’s website for detailed instructions on how to submit comments online or via mail.

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