Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received an application from Republic Services requesting an exemption from the requirement that drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) qualifying for the hours of service (HOS) short-haul exception must return to the original work reporting location and be released within 12 hours of coming on duty.
At the time, Republic Services asked that its short-haul CMV drivers be permitted to return within 14 hours without losing their short-haul status. Furthermore, Republic Services requested relief from the current electronic logging device (ELD) regulations for its affiliated companies.
FMCSA put out a notice on December 3 in the Federal Register seeking public comment on Republic's application for exemption. A spokesperson from Republic Services, however, clarified that Republic is actually covered under the National Waste & Recycling Association’s (NWRA) recently announced HOS exemption.
“We are not pursuing a separate exemption that would give us anything further. It was only about the timing of the submissions. Both Republic and NWRA filed for exemptions a year ago, and NWRA’s was approved first,” explained Republic.
Below is additional information from the December 3 notice in the Federal Register:
Drivers qualifying for the HOS short-haul exception do not have to maintain a record of duty status (RODS) on board the vehicle provided that (among other things) they return to their normal work reporting location and are released from work within 12 hours after coming on duty. A driver who exceeds the 12-hour limit loses the short-haul exception and must prepare RODS immediately for the entire day, often by means of an ELD.
Republic Services seeks an exemption for approximately 16,000 CMVs and approximately 15,500 drivers. Republic drivers qualify routinely for the short-haul exception; however, occasionally, they cannot complete their duty day within 12 hours. The company therefore seeks an exemption to allow its drivers to continue to qualify for the short-haul exception up to the 14th hour after coming on duty. In conjunction with this request, Republic Services requests further relief from the ELD requirements for its affiliated companies, which it states in its application is “reasonable and consistent with current exemptions FMCSA has granted.”
Republic states that the 14-hour rule is appropriate to certain industries and operations, including sanitation/solid waste and recycling collection. According to the applicant, the HOS regulations recognize the reasonableness of a 14-hour, rather than a 12-hour, return/release period in appropriate transport industries and other operations.
Federal regulations codify the statutory 14-hour short-haul period for ready-mixed concrete drivers, and other subparts of the rules provide industry-specific HOS exemptions for certain operations, including oilfield operations and pipeline welding trucks. Republic Services’ CMV drivers on solid waste and recycling routes generally meet the current short-haul exemption requirements and utilize the exception to written RODS. Increasing the requirement to 14 hours will ensure that Republic Services’ CMV drivers will meet the requirements of the short-haul operations exception in nearly all cases.
Regarding the other portion of its application for exemption, Republic Services indicates that ELDs were not designed for short-haul CMVs and that application of ELDs to CMVs that operate within a 100-mile radius and make multiple stops represents an inefficient use of ELD technology. The devices may work well for long-haul trucking because these drivers operate the controls of their CMVs for extended periods of time without need to stop multiple times during a single shift. Unlike sanitation truck drivers, long-haul drivers are not away from the controls of their CMVs for significant periods of time during a shift.
Republic further noted that on two prior occasions this year, FMCSA has recognized the reasonableness of extending the 14-hour return/release rule allowed for the ready-mixed concrete industry to other industries. In January, the agency granted the application for exemption filed by the National Asphalt Paving Association, Inc., permitting CMV drivers transporting asphalt and related materials to return to the reporting location and be released within 14, instead of 12, hours. In October , FMCSA granted Waste Management’s similar request, recognizing the extension of the 14-hour rule to the solid waste/recycling drivers of a sanitation industry participant like Republic Services.
To ensure an equivalent level of safety, Republic Services said it offers extensive formal classroom and field operations training. Its application references a company safety program that concentrates on drivers' attention and the most common risks associated with sanitation driver operations. Republic uses one-on-one in-cab observations in which its collection operations supervisors ride along with short-haul CMV drivers on their routes, providing real-time coaching and feedback. According to Republic, these in-cab observations create positive relationships with the drivers where concerns such as hours, safety and fatigue are addressed. Republic states that it covers increasing driver awareness about safety, fatigue and associated dangers and how to avoid and mitigate fatigue and remain alert behind the wheel. In addition, Republic utilizes event data recording devices to cover potential safety risks.
Republic requests a five-year exemption. Republic’s application for exemption, including a list of its 71 affiliated operating companies, is available for review.