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Hours of Service of Drivers; National Star Route Mail Contractors Association; Application for Exemption

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking

Hours of Service of Drivers; National Star Route Mail Contractors Association; Application for Exemption

Larry W. Minor
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
August 20, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 161 (Thursday, August 20, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 50711-50712]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-20568]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0262]


Hours of Service of Drivers; National Star Route Mail Contractors 
Association; Application for Exemption

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

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

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: FMCSA announces that it has received an application from the 
National Star Route Mail Contractors Association (NSRMCA) on behalf of 
its member motor carriers that transport mail under contract for the 
United States Postal Service (USPS). NSRMCA requests that its contract 
carriers be exempt from the ``14-hour rule'' of the Agency's hours-of-
service regulations found in section 395.3(a)(2). NSRMCA specifically 
requests that a U.S. mail-carrying driver may elect to drive a U.S. 
mail-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) no more than 10 hours 
following 8 consecutive hours off duty; and not drive after having been 
on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. NSRMCA 
believes the exemption would positively impact safety, while reducing 
operating costs for USPS and contractors that provide Highway Contract 
Route services to the USPS. FMCSA requests public comment on the NSRMCA 
application for exemption.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before September 21, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Federal Docket 
Management System Number FMCSA-2015-0262 by any of the following 
methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: 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 www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided. Please also see the Privacy Act heading below.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to www.regulations.gov, and follow the online 
instructions for accessing the dockets, or go to the street address 
listed above.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Public participation: The Federal eRulemaking Portal is available 
24 hours each day, 365 days each year. You can obtain 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 will be 
considered to the extent practicable.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Richard Clemente, FMCSA Driver and 
Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle 
Safety Standards; Telephone: 202-366-4325. Email: MCPSD@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Regulations (FMCSRs). Before doing so, the Agency must provide an 
opportunity for public comment. The Agency is required to publish a 
notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(a)), providing the public an opportunity to inspect the 
information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses 
that have been conducted, and to comment on the request. FMCSA must 
review the safety analyses and public comments submitted and determine 
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 Agency must publish its 
decision in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(b)) and state the 
reasons for denying or granting the application. If the exemption is 
granted, the notice must include the name of the person or entity, or 
class of persons, receiving the exemption, and the regulation from 
which the exemption is granted. The notice must also specify the 
effective period of the exemption and state the terms and conditions of 
the exemption, if any. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 
381.300(b)).

Request for Exemption

    NSRMCA is a national trade association representing contractors 
transporting mail for the United States Postal Service (USPS). The 
NSRMCA represents contractors in all 50 States as well as U.S. 
territories. The NSRMCA's interest is in the safe and efficient 
delivery of U.S. mail. NSRMCA members employ drivers who are regulated 
by the FMCSA hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, and they submitted 
their request for exemption on behalf of all motor carriers that meet 
the terms specified within the request.
    NSRMCA is seeking an exemption from the ``14-hour rule'' in 49 CFR 
395.3(a)(2), which prohibits a property-

[[Page 50712]]

carrying CMV driver from driving a CMV after the 14th hour after coming 
on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Under NSRMCA's 
proposal, they request that a U.S. mail-carrying driver may elect to 
drive a U.S. mail-carrying CMV no more than 10 hours following 8 
consecutive hours off duty; and not drive after having been on duty 15 
hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty.
    Many of NSRMCA's member carriers and drivers work in ``split-
shift'' operations. Their Highway Contract Routes involve the 
distribution of mail from a central processing facility to U.S. Post 
Offices in the morning. In the afternoon, U.S. mail collected by these 
same U.S. Post Offices is picked up and delivered to a central USPS 
processing facility. A typical day for a NSRMCA driver involved in the 
distribution of mail from a central processing facility starts early 
morning and ends 4 hours later at the last U.S. Post Office on the 
route. The return route typically starts 9 hours later at this same 
U.S. Post Office, collecting received mail at each U.S. Post Office on 
the route and delivering to the USPS central processing facility 4 
hours later. A typical driver will have worked 8 hours, with a 9-hour 
break during the day between outbound and inbound routes, and a 7-hour 
break overnight. Neither of these breaks meets the required 10 
consecutive hours break (i.e., off-duty or sleeper-berth time) as 
required in section 393.3(a)(1) in the FMCSRs. Their drivers typically 
spend a great part of their 14-hour ``driving window'' not driving; 
however, their schedules as detailed above necessitate NSRMCA's request 
for this exemption.
    The NSRMCA conducted a survey of its membership to determine who 
would be interested in using the proposed exemption. Twenty-two member 
motor carriers--who employ 1,834 drivers--replied that they would be 
interested in utilizing the proposed exemption. These motor carriers 
operate a total of 1,175 vehicles, 507 of which are used in ``split-
shift'' operations.
    NSRMCA believes the exemption would achieve a level of safety 
equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety obtained under the 
current ``14-hour rule'', which prohibits operators of property-
carrying CMVs from driving after the 14th hour of coming on duty. They 
believe that this exemption--if granted--would positively impact 
safety, while reducing operating costs for the USPS and contractors 
that provide Highway Contract Route services to the USPS. To qualify 
for this exemption, NSRMCA proposes the following four conditions: (1) 
A driver must have a rest opportunity; (2) motor carriers operating 
under this exemption must have a ``Satisfactory'' safety rating, or be 
unrated; (3) motor carriers operating under this exemption must have 
Safety Management System (SMS) scores below FMCSA's intervention 
thresholds; and (4) motor carrier representatives must participate in 
annual education, focusing on safety rating and regulatory compliance 
within the mail contracting environment.
    According to NSRMCA, operating under the proposed exemption would 
be safer than operating under the current FMCSRs, as drivers will spend 
less total time performing all tasks related to their employment. 
Furthermore, drivers and vehicles will travel less distance performing 
the same volume of work, thereby improving safety performance. A copy 
of the application for exemption 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 NRSMCA's application for an exemption from 
the ``14-hour rule'' requirement of 49 CFR 395.3(a)(2). The Agency will 
consider all comments received by close of business on September 21, 
2015. Comments will be available for examination in the docket at the 
location listed under the ADDRESSES section of this notice.

    Issued on: August 13, 2015.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2015-20568 Filed 8-19-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P



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