FMCSA Issues Relief On Short-Haul Exemption From 30-Minute Break Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued guidance that offers relief from one of the unintended consequences of the short-haul driver exemption from the 30-minute break requirement in the driver hours of service regulations. 78 Fed. Reg. 76757 (December 19, 2013).

The guidance, set out below, addresses the scenario where a CMV driver who is not subject to the log book or 30-minute break requirement might exceed 12 hours on duty, or drive outside the 100- or 150- air mile radius, and therefore must fill out a log book for that duty period. Under the current rules, that driver has also violated the break requirement if he/she drove after eight hours on duty without a 30-minute break.

§ 395.1 Scope of RulesQuestion 33: If a driver using either short-haul exception in § 395.1(e) finds it necessary to exceed the exception limitations for unforeseen reasons, is the driver in violation of the § 395.3 rest break provision if more than eight hours have passed without having taken the required rest break?

Guidance: No. A driver using a § 395.1(e) short-haul exception who finds it necessary to exceed the exception limitations for unforeseen reasons is not in violation of the § 395.3 rest-break requirements if eight or more hours have passed at the time the driver becomes aware of the inability to use the short-haul exception. The driver should annotate the record-of-duty status to indicate why the required rest break was not taken earlier, and should take the break at the earliest safe opportunity.

The FMCSA noted that the ideal time to prepare a log book and to take the required break would be prior to preparing the record of duty status (log book) or immediately following the preparation of the log book. The agency says that under its existing HOS requirements and guidance, drivers would begin preparing the log books as soon as they determine they are no longer eligible for the log book exemption.

For GAWDA members, CDL drivers are able to take advantage of 49 CFR 395.1(e)(1), which exempts the drivers from log books and the 30-minute break rule. To be eligible for the exemption, the drivers must operate within a 100 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location and (except for a driver-salesperson) return to the work reporting location and be released from work within 12 consecutive hours.

If the CDL driver goes beyond the 100 air-mile radius or is on duty for more than 12 hours, then the driver must complete a record-of-duty status (log book) for that day. In addition, the driver would also be subject to the rule that prohibits driving a commercial motor vehicle after eight hours on duty until the driver has a break of at least 30 minutes.

This new guidance says that when a CDL driver exceeds the 12 hours on duty, or the 100 air-mile radius, for “unforeseen” reasons, the driver does not violate the rule even if he/she has driven a CMV beyond eight hours on duty without a break. The driver should complete a log book and take a break as soon as he/she determines that the exemption is no longer available.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Michael Dodd Meet the Author
GAWDA’s DOT, Security, OSHA &EPA Consultant Michael Dodd is president of MLD Safety Associates in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Members can reach him at 573-718-2887 and MLDSafety@hotmail.com.