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Hours of Service of Drivers: Western Pilot Service Application for Exemption

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Hours of Service of Drivers: Western Pilot Service Application for Exemption

Larry W. Minor
Federal Register
October 3, 2011

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 191 (Monday, October 3, 2011)]
[Pages 61137-61138]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-25323]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2011-0084]

Hours of Service of Drivers: Western Pilot Service Application 
for Exemption

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of application for exemption; request for comments.


SUMMARY: FMCSA has received an application from Western Pilot Service 
(``Western'') requesting an exemption from certain hours-of-service 
(HOS) provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs). The exemption request is for Western's drivers who transport 
aviation fuel for aircraft used in wild-land firefighting operations. 
Western specifically requests an exemption for up to 15 drivers from 
Sec.  395.3(b)(2), the HOS prohibition against driving a commercial 
motor vehicle (CMV) after the 70th hour of cumulative on-duty time in 
any 8-day period. FMCSA requests public comment on the Western 
application for exemption.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before November 2, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Federal Docket 
Management System Number [FMCSA-2011-0084] by any of the following 
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building, Ground 
Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
E.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and 
docket number. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and 
additional information on the exemption process, see the Public 
Participation heading below. Note that all comments received will be 
posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any 
personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading 
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the 
online instructions for accessing the dockets, or go to the street 
address listed above.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19476) or you may visit http://DocketInfo.dot.gov.
    Public participation: The Federal eRulemaking Portal is available 
24 hours each day, 365 days each year. You can get electronic 
submission and retrieval help and guidelines under the ``help'' section 
of the Federal eRulemaking Portal Web site. If you want us to notify 
you that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope or postcard, or print the acknowledgement page that 
appears after submitting comments online. Comments received after the 
comment closing date will be included in the docket, and we will 
consider late comments to the extent practicable.


[[Page 61138]]

and Carrier Operations Division; Office of Bus and Truck Standards and 
Operations; Telephone: 202-366-4325. E-mail: MCPSD@dot.gov.



    Section 4007 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century 
(Pub. L. 105-178, 112 Stat. 107, 401, June 9, 1998) amended 49 U.S.C. 
31136(e) and 31315 to provide authority to grant exemptions from the 
FMCSRs. Under its regulations, FMCSA must publish a notice of each 
exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The 
Agency must provide the public an opportunity to inspect the 
information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses 
that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide an opportunity 
for public comment on the request.
    The Agency reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, 
and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a 
level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application 
and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving 
the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is 
granted. The notice must also specify the effective period, and explain 
the terms and conditions, of the exemption. The exemption may be 
renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Request for Exemption

    The HOS regulations in 49 CFR 395.3(b)(2) prohibit a property-
carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver from driving a CMV after 
having been on duty for 70 cumulative hours in any period of 8 
consecutive days, if the employing motor carrier operates CMVs every 
day of the week.
    Western is a tactical aerial firefighting company that operates in 
support of wild-land firefighting operations under contract with 
various government agencies such as the U. S. Forest Service, Bureau of 
Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Western is based in 
Phoenix, Arizona. The requested exemption would apply to no more than 
15 ground support truck drivers employed by Western. The company 
operates a total of 12 ground support CMVs.
    Each Western firefighting aircraft is teamed with a ground unit, 
which includes a driver and a CMV that pulls a gooseneck trailer 
transporting various mixing tanks, motors, and aviation fuel. Western 
states that its contracts require it to staff its units for a minimum 
of 9 hours and up to a maximum of 14 hours a day. Western's equipment 
must be set up at a designated government base and be ready to mix, 
load, fuel, and service its aircraft at all times during daylight hours 
and must be capable of going to an alternative base when requested. The 
ground support vehicles carry aviation fuel for their respective 
aircraft; the primary role of the driver is to service and re-fuel the 
aircraft. While the operation of the ground support vehicle is a 
secondary role, each driver is subject to the FMCSRs including 49 CFR 
part 395.
    Western states that on a typical day its drivers report to work at 
9 a.m. and perform a pre-trip inspection. The drivers prepare their 
daily logs, manifest, load logs, and mileage logs and attend a fire 
weather outlook briefing. The drivers may relax and sleep if they feel 
the need after the briefing and completion of any portion of daily duty 
requirements. If there is no late afternoon fire activity, the drivers 
are usually released at 6 p.m. (9-hour day).
    Western contends that with no fire activity, drivers may perform no 
more than 4 hours of actual physical and mental work in a given day. 
While Western's drivers wait for an aircraft to be dispatched or land, 
they are ``available'' and in ``readiness to work,'' and are therefore 
considered to be ``on-duty, not driving'' and subject to the 70-hour/8-
day rule.
    The problem arises because Western's drivers sometimes run out of 
available hours in 5 days at 14 hours on duty per day, based on the 70-
hour/8-day rule. Currently, Western has relief drivers who travel to 
give regular drivers 2 days off every 7 days to ensure that they stay 
in compliance with the HOS regulations.
    Instead of complying with the 70-hour/8-day rule, Western would 
like drivers to have 2 consecutive days off in a 14-day period so that 
they are on the same schedule as the pilots operating the aircraft, who 
are required by Federal Aviation Administration rules to have 2 
consecutive days off daily in a 2-week period. Western states that if 
its exemption request is granted, the drivers would still be held to 
the 14-hour driving windows and 11-hour driving limit every day the 
drivers are on duty. Western reasons that because its regular drivers 
have access to rest facilities, and permission to rest and relax during 
the day, they are not becoming fatigued. Western contends that these 
drivers operate in a relaxing, stress-free environment.
    A copy of the Western Pilot Service exemption application is 
available for review in the docket for this notice.

Request for Comments

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b)(4), FMCSA 
requests public comment on the Western application for an exemption 
from the ``70-hour/8-day rule'' in 49 CFR part 395. The Agency will 
consider all comments received by close of business on November 2, 
2011. Comments will be available for examination in the docket at the 
location listed under the ADDRESSES section of this notice. The Agency 
will consider to the extent practicable comments received in the public 
docket after the closing date of the comment period.

    Issued on: September 16, 2011.
 Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2011-25323 Filed 9-30-11; 8:45 am]

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