Rich Clemente, a transportation specialist with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), broke down what a newly granted federal hours of service (HOS) exemption means for National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) member companies during a webinar NWRA held on December 11.
Last year, NWRA applied for an exemption specifically on short-haul provisions, which essentially allows individuals to utilize timecards for HOS compliance as long as certain conditions are met. Clemente explained that under the current short-haul exemption, a commercial driver operates within a 100-air-mile radius of his or her reporting location and returns to that normal work reporting location within 12 consecutive hours. Those who meet this exemption do not need to keep a paper record of duty status, which also means trucks do not need to be equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs), noted Clemente.
In late 2018, FMCSA received an application for exemption from NWRA on behalf of the entire waste and recycling industry specifically on the 12-hour short-haul provision. NWRA sought to extend the 12-hour return to work reporting location to 14 hours.
After analyzing the request, on March 29, 2019, FMCSA published a notice in the Federal Register for the NWRA application and requested public comment. After the public comment period closed, officials at FMCSA analyzed the comments before making their recommendations to upper management on whether to grant the application.
“Based on everything we analyzed, we granted their request to extend the 12-hour short-haul limit to return to the normal work reporting location to 14 hours,” explained Clemente. “We determined that the NWRA request demonstrated an equivalent level of safety to what the current rules are, and the exemption was granted.”
The exemption is effective for five years—from November 21, 2019, through November 21, 2024.
“I want to stress that the only part of the short-haul exemption that was granted is the provision that NWRA specifically requested to extend the 12 hours to 14,” said Clemente. “It does not change the 100-air-mile radius requirement. It just changes the return time from 12 to 14 hours.”
Although NWRA’s request encompassed the entire waste and recycling industry, the exemption FMCSA granted is specifically for drivers of NWRA member companies, and they must carry a copy of the November 21, 2019, Federal Register notice while they are operating under the terms of the exemption.
All NWRA member companies must return within 14 hours to the original work reporting location. And, as part of what is specified in the Federal Register notice, member companies operating under the exemption must maintain accurate time records of when the driver comes to work each day, the total number of hours the driver is on duty each day and the time the driver is released from duty each day.
In addition, any NWRA member company utilizing the exemption must notify FMCSA within five business days of any crash that occurs between hours 12 and 14, as defined under the operating terms of the exemption.
“The agency does not believe that the drivers covered by the exemption will experience any deterioration of their safety record,” noted Clemente. “However, the agency will evaluate any information submitted regarding the exemption, and if safety is being compromised or a continuation of the exemption is inconsistent with two of these provisions, the FMCSA will take steps to revoke the exemption of the company and drivers in question. Granted, [the exemption] is good for five years, but we do have the power to revoke it depending on information we receive.”
Webinar moderator Kirk Sander, NWRA’s chief of staff and vice president of safety and standards, explained that NWRA is working on a certification form for members to carry in their cabs. He urged member companies to reach out to him with their Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers.
“In the cab, [drivers] need the Federal Register notice, and being able to tie an NWRA member DOT number would certainly be helpful,” added Clemente. “I don’t think it would be required,but it would certainly be helpful if someone got stopped.”
Back in October 2018, FMCSA granted Waste Management’s request for an ELD exemption. During NWRA’s webinar, Tom Jacques, senior DOT safety manager for Waste Management (WM), explained that when WM reports its crashes—after a crash has occurred between the hours of 12 and 14, per the exemption—WM compiles a spreadsheet that includes the incident number, city and state of the occurrence, a list of any injuries, pieces of equipment, driver’s last name, driver’s license number, vehicle information and any kind of police reporting that details the cause of the crash. FMCSA also asks whether the driver was cited for the crash.
“Once you get that template put together, you simply email it to FMCSA,” noted Jacques. “For the most part, FMCSA has accepted our reporting, and there have been no issues. It has been relatively simple.”