FMCSA Grants U.S. Department of Energy DOE HOS ELD 30-minute Rest Break Exemption

The FMCSA Decision

FMCSA announces its decision to grant the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) request for a renewal of its exemption from the minimum 30-minute rest break provision of the Agency's hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The exemption will enable DOE's contract motor carriers and their employee-drivers transporting security-sensitive radioactive materials to be treated the same as drivers transporting explosives. The exempted drivers will be allowed to use 30 minutes or more of on-duty “attendance time” to meet the HOS rest break requirements providing they do not perform any other work during the break.

U.S. Department of Energy Request for Renewal of 30-minute Rest Break Exemption

Certain motor carriers under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) transport “security-sensitive radioactive materials.” DOE requests a renewal of a limited exemption from the hours-of-service (HOS) regulation pertaining to rest breaks [49 CFR 395.3(a)(3)(ii)] to allow contract driver-employees transporting security-sensitive radioactive materials to be treated the same as drivers transporting explosives, as provided in § 395.1(q). Section 395.1(q) states that operators of CMVs carrying Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives subject to the requirement for a 30-minute rest break in § 395.3(a)(3)(ii) may use 30 minutes or more of “attendance time” to meet the requirement for a rest break. Section 395.1(q) allows drivers who are required by § 397.5 to attend a motor vehicle transporting certain types of explosives but perform no other work, to log at least a half-hour of their “attendance time” toward the break.

DOE contends that shipments of security-sensitive radioactive materials require a team of two drivers and the use of a sleeper berth to minimize risk and expedite delivery in a safe and secure manner. DOE asserts that granting a renewal of the exemption would continue to allow team drivers to manage their en-route rest periods efficiently and also perform mandated shipment security surveillance, resulting in a safe and secure driving performance during a long distance trip.

DOE has implemented several technical and administrative controls to ensure the continued effective use of driver on-duty and rest-break time, which would remain in effect under the requested exemption renewal. They include the following:

  • Real-time tracking and monitoring of transuranic waste and security-sensitive shipments using DOE's satellite-based systems.
  • Use of electronic on-board recorders on trucks, which is contractually required for motor carriers involved in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to ensure compliance with driver HOS rules.
  • Continuous monitoring of the performance of DOE-qualified motor carriers using the FMCSA Compliance Safety Accountability Program's Safety Measurement System, and DOE's Motor Carrier Evaluation Program.

Further details regarding DOE's safety controls can be found in its application for a renewal of the exemption. The application can be accessed in the docket identified at the beginning of this notice. DOE contends that these controls enable them to achieve a high level of safety and security for transportation of security-sensitive radioactive materials.

DOE believes that its contract employee drivers should continue to be allowed to follow the requirements of § 395.1(q) when transporting shipments of security-sensitive radioactive materials. DOE believes that shipments made under the requested exemption renewal would achieve a level of safety and security that is at least equivalent to that which would be obtained by following the normal rest break requirement in § 395.3(a)(3)(ii).

Period of the Exemption

This limited exemption is effective from June 30, 2015, through June 29, 2020.

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