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HOS waiver coming soon for fireworks haulers
Last Updated: Wed, June 12, 2019
A specific segment of the trucking industry is just two weeks away from enjoying the benefit of a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration waiver mandating the use of electronic logging devices and observance of the 14-hour rule.
Beginning June 28 drivers hauling fireworks for American Pyrotechnics Association members will be allowed to use paper logs in lieu of ELDs, and will not be bound by the 14-hour rule, meaning essentially that off-duty time will not be included in the 14-hour daily limit.
APA's exemption for the Independence Day season is good for 2019 and 2020, and runs from June 28 until July 8 both years. It is a renewing and continuation of the exemption for various APA members who have held the exemption beginning in 2005.
The APA is a national safety and trade association of the United States fireworks industry, representing manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, suppliers and professional display companies. APA has over 250 member companies. Along with their subsidiaries, APA's member companies are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the fireworks manufactured, imported, distributed and professionally displayed in the United States.
FMCSA is confident that "the terms and conditions of the exemption ensure a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption," according to FMCSA's Feb. 19 publication of the determination in the Federal Register.
As it does with its other rule changes and exemptions FMCSA opened a comment period for the public to respond to the fireworks exemption. Comments can be viewed at www.regulations.gov by inserting the docket number FMCSA-2018-0140 in the search field, or click on the source link below. Then, click on Open Docket Folder.
Altogether, the agency received 27 comments – 21 positive, 5 against, and one took no position.
Supporting the decision was the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association with the statement:
“The current ELD marketplace does not adequately support the needs of the entire trucking industry. Since the December 2017 implementation, professional drivers have shared the real-world problems they have experienced because of malfunctioning devices, lack of connectivity in rural areas, and false claims made by ELD vendors. For these reasons, along with APA's prior exemption history, FMCSA should grant the exemption request.”
The Advocates, in opposing the exemption stated:
“The application does not meet the statutory and regulatory requirements for the exemption. The application fails to consider practical alternatives, justify the need for the exemption, provide an analysis of the safety impacts the requested exemption may cause, and provide information on the specific countermeasures to be undertaken to ensure that the exemption will achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved absent the exemption.”
One individual commented:
"There should be no exemption for them. Paper logs are easily manipulated. Driving behind a steering wheel is no different whether you are hauling fireworks or regular dry freight; driving is driving. The driver still gets tired and is a danger on the road if violating the HOS rules.
"You should allow all drivers to stop their 14-hour clock when they are not driving. Too many groups are getting exemptions. The hos rules were implemented in an effort to make the roads safer. FMCSA then grants propane haulers exemption from the HOS due to weather conditions.
"FMCSA is saying then it is not unsafe to work more than 14 hours or drive more than 11 hours if it fills a need. Does not make sense."
Another individual against the exemption stated:
"Surely they can find a temporary ELD provider with plug-in hardware and a smart phone display/interface. If ELDs are good for everybody's safety, then there is no reason to exclude people who are carrying EXPLOSIVES."
That last comment spoke to the reason APA had requested the exemption.
Apparently APA members deliver fireworks and other pyrotechnics operate for only a brief period of time, driving rented or leased trucks for about 90 percent of its vehicles for less than a two week period of time. They deliver 98 percent of the nation's 16,000 Fourth of July fireworks displays.
The APA maintains that installing ELDs on rented or leased vehicles for only about 11 days of driving during the one season would be a large financial burden.
One comment in support of the exemption echoed the APA sentiment:
"As a driver of fireworks trucks each year I support the exemption. I drive under CDL requirements a grand total of probably 3 days every year. The cost associated with complying with ELD requirements relative to the number of days being used far outweights any safety factors that might be gained."
FMCSA requires APA member carriers and drivers to:
- Be employed by the APA motor carriers already covered by the multi-year exemption from the Agency's 14-hour rule
- Possess an active USDOT registration
- Meet minimum required levels of insurance
- Not be subject to any “imminent hazard” or other out-of-service orders
- Have satisfactory safety ratings based on compliance reviews
- Have valid Hazardous Materials Safety Permits
- To comply with all other requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Hazardous Materials Regulations
The FMCSA states that it does not believe the motor carriers and drivers covered by this exemption will experience any deterioration of their safety record.
However, should this occur, FMCSA will take all steps necessary to protect the public interest, including revocation of the exemption. The FMCSA will immediately revoke the exemption for failure to comply with its terms and conditions.
Exempt motor carriers and drivers are subject to FMCSA monitoring while operating under this exemption.
Sources: Federal Register,
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