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FMCSA adopts several FAST Act provisions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has adopted as final certain regulations required by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) enacted on December 4, 2015. Most of the rule changes apply only to very specific types of operations, although the changes related to the handling of exemption applications have broader applicability.

The statutory changes went into effect on October 1, 2015, retroactively, and require that FMCSA make conforming changes to its regulations to ensure they are current and consistent with the statutory requirements.

The rule implements requirements of eight sections of the FAST Act:

  1. Exemption applications (Section 5206)

  2. Electronic logging device requirements related to RVs (Section 5507)

  3. Covered farm vehicles (Section 5518)

  4. Operators of hi-rail vehicles (Section 5519)

  5. Ready mix concrete delivery vehicles (Section 5521)

  6. Transportation of construction materials and equipment (Section 5522)

  7. Exemptions for certain welding trucks used in pipeline (Section 5524)

  8. Hazardous materials endorsement exemption (Section 7208)

Exemption applications FMCSA adopted changes in its regulations to reflect several changes mandated by the FAST Act related to exemptions and exemption applications:

  • Allows for exemptions to be granted for up to 5 years (rather than 2 years today) and to be renewed for periods of up to 5 years

  • Permits an applicant whose exemption application has been denied to resubmit the application addressing the reason for denial.

  • Makes permanent three existing exemptions from the 30-minute rest break requirements applying to drivers (1) operating ready-mixed concrete delivery vehicles if they must wait with the vehicle at a jobsite or terminal; (2) transporting bees in interstate commerce when bees are on the vehicle; and (3) transporting livestock while the livestock are on the vehicle.

ELD requirements related to RVs

Section 5507 of the FAST Act creates an exception for motor carriers transporting a motor home or recreation vehicle trailer in a driveaway-towaway operation. Carriers can comply with hours-of-service requirements using either a paper record of duty status form or an electronic logging device.

Covered farm vehicles As required by Section 5518 of the FAST Act, FMCSA clarified that a state could not be denied federal transportation funding for exempting "covered farm vehicles" (as defined in MAP-21) from any requirement related to (1) commercial driver's license or drug and alcohol testing requirements; (2) medical certificates; or (3) hours-of-service or vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance requirements.

Operators of hi-rail vehicles Under Section 5519, drivers of hi-rail vehicles -- defined as "an internal rail flaw dection vehicle equipped with flange hi-rails" -- do not have to count certain time traveling to or from a duty assignment against the 14-hour rule. The conditions are that (1) such time not exceed 2 hours per calendar day, up to 30 hours a month and (2) the motor carrier accounts for the time in records that it makes available to FMCSA or the Federal Railroad Administration upon request.

Ready mix concrete delivery vehicles Section 5521 of the FAST Act exempts drivers of ready-mixed concrete delivery vehicles from keeping records of duty status under certain circumstances. The driver of the ready-mixed concrete delivery vehicle must (1) operate within a 100-mile radius of the normal work reporting location; (2) return to the work reporting location and be released from work within 14 consecutive hours; (3) have at least 10 hours off duty following each 14 hours on duty; and (4) not exceed 11 hours of driving time following 10 consecutive hours off duty. In essence, the change allows drivers of ready-mixed concrete trucks to use the short-haul exception but with a 14-hour on-duty period.

Transportation of construction materials and equipment Prior law allows drivers transporting construction materials and equipment within a 50 air-mile radius to restart their cumulative weekly limits with a period of 24 hours off duty. The FAST Act generally increases this limit to 75 air miles, although it allows states to adopt different limits between 50 and 75 air miles as long as the movements take place entirely within the state.

Exemptions for certain welding trucks used in pipeline industry Section 5524 exempts welding trucks used in the pipeline industry that meet certain conditions from most of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Hazardous materials endorsement exemption As required by Section 7208 of the FAST Act, FMCSA has adopted a rule change providing that states may waive requirements for holders of Class A CDLs from obtaining hazardous materials endorsements if they are transporting 1,000 gallons or less of diesel fuel under certain conditions. The agency clarified, however, that a driver may still be required to obtain a hazmat endorsement if he travels to a state that has not opted to waive the requirement.

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