An NTTC delegation of members and staff met with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officials in mid-December to discuss unique challenges faced by fuel haulers attempting to follow the hours of service rules.
NTTC members John Hamel of J&S Transport Co Inc and Becky Perlaky of the Kenan Advantage Group Inc joined NTTC staff Dan Furth and Boyd Stephenson to meet with the federal officials. The Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association also provided information used in the meeting.
Because of these fuel hauling-specific challenges, NTTC intends to file an exemption request from the 30-minute rest break for drivers transporting petroleum-based fuel products. At the meeting, FMCSA staff could not indicate that they would grant any exemption request. But, NTTC cleared the first hurdle when FMCSA officials stated that they believed an exemption request for fuel haulers was worth filing for consideration.
The NTTC delegation explained that the fuel transportation industry is different than long-haul trucking, and therefore not as well-served by the current hours of service rules. Specifically, long waits at fuel racks mean that fuel truck drivers are not nearly as fatigued as long-haul drivers after working eight hours of their shift.
Additionally, many drivers transporting fuel attempt to operate under the 100 air-mile short haul hours of service exemption. These drivers need only record logs and take a rest break if they discover their total shift time will exceed 12 hours. Waits at fuel racks also mean that the fuel truck drivers that must take a 30-minute rest break after their eighth hour on duty are doubly challenged--they must first find a safe haven where they can leave the fuel-laden trailer before going off duty.
The fuel transport segment faces similar operational constraints to the ready-mix concrete segment. A couple of years ago, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association filed an exemption request from the 30-minute rest break requirement. FMCSA granted that request, giving ready mix concrete transporters a complete reprieve from the 30-minute rest break requirement.
Beyond the similarities to the ready mix concrete industry, fuel haulers must also seek safe havens during their rest break—a complication that goes above and beyond those that were sufficient for the concrete haulers to receive an exemption.
Therefore, NTTC plans to file for an exemption for the fuel hauling segment of the tank truck industry, according to Furth. NTTC will be sending a survey to its membership to query fuel haulers about operational data relevant to the exemption request. All fuel hauling carriers are requested to reply. NTTC will also circulate a copy of the exemption request once it is filed.