FMCSA to consider waivers to trucker break requirements

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In recent years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has overruled two attempts by individual states to impose stricter rules regarding rests and breaks on drivers passing through their territory.

That may be about to change. The FMCSA recently announced that it will consider giving waivers when a state requests it.

California and Washington both have more stringent requirements

These states are more demanding about when and for how long drivers of trucks must stop. For example, California expects drivers to take:

  • A “duty-free” 30-minute meal break when working more than five hours a day
  • A second duty-free, 30-minute meal break when working more than 10 hours a day
  • Additional 10-minute rest periods every four hours

This is considerably more than the current federal requirements.

Defenders of California’s rules argue they help to create safer conditions for drivers and other road users. Opponents argue they are excessive and make business more costly and more difficult. They also argue that allowing different states to apply different rules makes it harder to operate.

Petitions for waivers must consider three things

The FMCSA has said that petitions for waivers from states must detail:

  • How applying their rules has increased safety among other intrastate drivers
  • Whether applying their rules to truckers will add to existing truck parking problems and how that might affect traffic
  • Whether applying their rules to trucks will deter companies from working in their state or weaken the national transport system and, if so, what they will do to counter that

The FMCSA has previously argued that their current federal rules are sufficient and that stricter rules would not increase safety. This new openness to waivers suggests they might no longer think this is true.

Wherever you sit on this issue, staying up-to-date with the regulations is crucial so you know what you must comply with.