FMCSA Grants Oregon Trucking Associations HOS ELD 30-minute Rest Break Exemption

The FMCSA Decision

FMCSA announces its decision to grant the application of the Oregon Trucking Associations (OTA) for a limited exemption from the Agency's hours-of-service (HOS) regulation requiring commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to take 30-minute rest breaks at specified intervals in their duty day. This exemption is limited to CMV drivers engaged in transporting timber from Oregon forestlands, and further limited to periods of the year in which the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has formally restricted logging operations to certain hours of the day due to an elevated risk of forest fire. FMCSA believes that the rest breaks during these periods of restricted operating hours may reduce the volume of timber that OTA drivers can deliver, affecting the economic viability of the Oregon lumber industry. The Agency grants this limited exemption on condition that these exempt drivers do not drive after the 12th hour of their duty day. The Agency finds that the CMV operations of OTA timber transporters under this limited exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the exemption.

Oregon Trucking Associations (OTA) Request for 30-minute Rest Break Exemption

The OTA, a trade association, has applied for a limited exemption from the mandatory rest break requirement of 49 CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii) on behalf of all motor carriers and drivers who operate CMVs to transport logs in interstate commerce from Oregon forestlands. Some Oregon timber is transported by truck to ports for export to other countries, which is interstate commerce. Some is transported to other States by truck, sometimes interlining with rail or water carriers. OTA states that most of its members who engage in lumber operations have interstate operating authority. OTA states that the lumber mills must receive a certain volume of logs to remain economically viable. It bears noting here, that drivers transporting logs from Oregon forests to Oregon lumber mills that are operating in intrastate commerce, and therefore not subject to FMCSA jurisdiction or to this exemption. Some of this transportation to the mills, however, does cross State lines and is therefore interstate transportation covered by the Federal regulations. OTA did not provide a percentage breakdown of those shipments that are in interstate commerce.

The OTA has indicated that a substantial number of its drivers qualify as short-haul drivers, and thus will not require this exemption. The general HOS rule limits certain short-haul drivers to a duty day of 12 hours from the time they come on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Nonetheless, OTA has proposed that all drivers employing this exemption be limited by its terms to a duty day of no more than 12 hours.

When the risk of fire is high, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) limits logging in the forestland to certain hours of the day, such as prior to 1:00 p.m. OTA states that fire-safety restrictions are often imposed from July to late October and that logging operators need all remaining time each day to cut and remove the volume of timber needed to sustain the lumber mills. OTA seeks relief from the 30-minute break requirement only when the ODF is formally restricting logging operations to certain hours of the day due to an elevated risk of forest fire. OTA states that during these periods of limited operations, CMV drivers employing this exemption would achieve the same level of safety with this exemption in place as they would achieve if required to observe the rest-break requirement.

CMV enforcement officials in Oregon generally have access to the ODF current roster showing what level of forest protection is in place at any time. When Oregon timber transporters travel out of State, they must carry a copy of the ODF order reflecting the alert level at that time, as the exemption terms and conditions will require.

Period of the Exemption

This limited exemption is effective from March 18, 2015, through March 18, 2020.

Up Next: FMCSA Denies SB R Kreider and Son Inc HOS ELD 12-Hour Limit on the Duty Day for Short-Haul Drivers