The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided that Transco, Inc., a major private fleet serving grocery stores and restaurants, would not operate as safely if exempted from the 30-minute rest break requirement as it would be continuing to comply with it. In its petition for an exemption, Transco argued that its operations differ greatly from long-haul operations and that its drivers' frequent stops serve the purpose of the 30-minute rest break because they break the monotony and stress of driving. The carrier contended that physically-active offloading is better for the health of its drivers than 30 minutes free of work-related duties.
In rejecting the exemption, FMCSA said that in adopting the 30-minute rest break it had relied upon research indicating that periods free from work responsibilities are followed by improved work performance, regardless of the precise nature of the worker's duties. "FMCSA believes that, whatever the relative degree of monotony associated with long-haul and local-delivery driving, the fact is that both types of drivers are susceptible to fatigue as the workday progresses," it said. The agency said that rest breaks benefit both types of drivers and that safety is improved by allowing drivers to take a break from their duties during the work day. "The rest break is especially important for Transco drivers because they accumulate fatigue both from the lifting of their unloading tasks and from 19-hour days," FMCSA said.