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FMCSA Grants Hours-of-Service Exemption for Certain Hazmat Cargo

Posted on 8/27/2015 by Roger Marks

In the August 21, 2015, Federal Register, the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted an exemption from one facet of the Federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules for truck drivers hauling certain “security-sensitive” hazardous materials that require a US DOT Security Plan.

For some hazardous materials—like explosives, weapons, or radioactive materials—the law (or the shipping contract) may require that the driver “attend to” or watch over the shipment at all times during transport. When the vehicle is stopped, the driver must attend to the hazmat cargo to prevent unauthorized access.

New FMCSA Exemption

Under the Federal hours-of-service rules, drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are prohibited from driving a CMV if more than eight hours have passed since the driver’s last thirty-minute off-duty or sleeping period. Time spent attending hazmat cargo is considered on-duty time.

In response to a request from the American Trucking Association (ATA), FMCSA has granted an exemption to allow “attending” time to instead be counted toward the driver’s thirty-minute rest period, provided the driver does not engage in any other on-duty activity while attending the cargo. FMCSA believes the exemption will achieve an equivalent or greater level of safety, as “attending” cargo is unlikely to contribute to driver fatigue. In addition, counting attendance time as rest time will prevent the driver from having to leave the vehicle to complete his or her thirty-minute rest period.

US DOT hours-of-service hazmat security attendance

This exemption is limited to drivers transporting:
  • HM loads requiring placarding under 49 CFR 172, Subpart F;
  • Select agents and toxins identified in 49 CFR 172.8(b)(13) that do not require placarding; and
  • Any hazmat for which the DOT Security Plan requires constant attendance in accordance with 49 CFR 172.800–172.804.
In addition, use of the exemption is limited to motor carriers with a “satisfactory” safety rating, or carriers that are “unrated.”

The exemption will last for two years, at which time it will be eligible for renewal.

Which Hazmat Shipments Require a Security Plan?

Under the US DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), certain materials require the “offeror” (i.e., the shipper) to develop and maintain a Security Plan. First required by US DOT in 2003, these plans are designed to ensure that hazmat shipments are protected from malicious misuse, sabotage, and diversion during transport.

For more information about when a security plan is required, click here: Question of the Week: When Do I Need a Security Plan?

Tags: DOT, hazmat shipping, new rules

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