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Expanded HOS relief rejected for oilfield drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied the American Trucking Associations' request that would have expanded to a larger population of commercial drivers an exemption from a key provision of the hours-of-service rules related to oil and gas extraction.

Currently, drivers of commercial trucks designed specifically for use at oil and natural gas extraction sites may exclude waiting time from the calculation of the 14-hour rule under the hours-of-service regulations. ATA had asked for a limited two-year exemption that would have expanded that relief to other commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who exclusively serve oil and gas extraction sites with standard over-the-road CMVs as long as the driver had access to appropriate rest accommodations in the truck's sleeper berth or at an on-site bunking facility.

FMCSA said that ATA did not demonstrate how the CMV operations under such an exemption would achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety obtained in the absence of the exemption.

"The proposed relief from the 14-hour rule would enable miscellaneous off-duty periods at the oil or natural gas work sites to be excluded when determining whether the individual may operate the CMV during the work day," FMCSA said. "This creates the potential for extremely long work days provided the individual has not accumulated 14 hours of on-duty time prior to completing his/her driving tasks for the day. This may represent an extreme condition but the current waiting time exception does not include a limit and the ATA's request would extend this potentially risky option to a wider population of oil and natural gas workers."

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