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Hours of Service Exception for Railroad Signal Employees

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  FMCSA

Hours of Service Exception for Railroad Signal Employees

Anne S. Ferro (Federal Register)
May 5, 2011

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 87 (Thursday, May 5, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 25588-25590]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-11018]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 395

[Docket ID. FMCSA-2010-0032]
RIN 2126-AB36

Hours of Service Exception for Railroad Signal Employees

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

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amends 
its hours-of-service (HOS) regulations to adopt regulatory language 
consistent with the statutory exemption for certain railroad signal 
employees operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in connection with 
railroad signal work. This is in accordance with the Rail Safety 
Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA of 2008), which took effect July 16, 
2009. This action will ensure that Federal, State and local motor 
carrier enforcement officials are aware of the statutory exemption 
applicable to signal employees and eliminate the potential for issuance 
of improper citations.

DATES: This action is effective on May 5, 2011.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents 
identified by docket number FMCSA-2010-0032 or RIN 2126-AB36 go to 
Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov at any time, or 
visit the U.S. Department of Transportation's Docket Management 
Facility at West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Thomas Yager, Chief, Driver and 
Carrier Operations Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-4325.


I. Background/Overview

    This exception to FMCSA's hours-of-service (HOS) regulations is 
mandated by the RSIA of 2008. This law provides that ``signal 
employees'' who operate motor vehicles and who are regulated under 49 
U.S.C. 21101, et seq., are not subject to HOS rules promulgated by any 
other Federal authority, including FMCSA. See 49 U.S.C. 21104(e). Thus, 
FMCSA amends its regulations to state that FMCSA's HOS regulations do 
not apply to a signal employee who is regulated under 49 U.S.C. 21101-
21109. This amendment will clarify the current exception applicable to 
signal employees for industry and for Federal, State and local law 
enforcement and eliminate the potential for issuance of improper 
    FMCSA is also amending the authority citation for 49 CFR part 395 
to add appropriate statutory references and eliminate references that 
are either erroneous or unnecessary.

II. Legal Basis for the Rulemaking

    This final rule is based on FMCSA's authority to implement 
statutory directives enacted by several provisions of the RSIA of 2008, 
Public Law 110-432, 122 Stat. 4848, 49 U.S.C. 21101, et seq. Section 
108 of the RSIA of 2008 substantively amends the law applicable to 
employees engaged in signal work for

[[Page 25589]]

railroad operations, effective July 16, 2009. Section 108(a) amends the 
definition of ``signal employee'' to eliminate the words ``employed by 
a railroad carrier.'' See 49 U.S.C. 21101(4). As a result, employees of 
railroad contractors and subcontractors who are engaged in installing, 
repairing, or maintaining signal systems (the functions within the 
definition of signal employee) will also be covered by the HOS laws 
administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Section 
108(c) modifies the HOS restrictions applicable to covered employees. 
See 49 U.S.C. 21104(a)-(d).
    Finally, section 108(c) provides that the HOS, duty hours, and rest 
periods of signal employees are governed exclusively by the HOS laws 
administered by FRA. It also provides that signal employees operating 
applicable motor vehicles are not subject to other HOS, duty hours, or 
rest period rules besides the FRA's requirements. See 49 U.S.C. 
    The statutory provision may be incorporated in regulations adopted 
by FMCSA under the authority of the Motor Carrier Act of 1935 (49 
U.S.C. 31502(b)) and the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (49 U.S.C. 
31136). FMCSA is authorized to implement these statutory provisions by 
delegation from the Secretary of Transportation in 49 CFR part 1.73.
    Congress gave the Agency no discretion with respect to 
implementation of these RSIA of 2008 provisions. While the 
Administrative Procedure Act (APA) ordinarily requires the issuance of 
a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and opportunity for public 
comment, the APA provides an exception when an ``agency for good cause 
finds * * * that notice and public procedure * * * are impracticable, 
unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.'' 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). 
Because this rule is technical and simply conforms FMCSA rules with 
current statutory provisions, the Agency deems notice and comment 
procedures ``unnecessary'' under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). The promulgation 
of this final rule is a nondiscretionary ministerial act required by a 
statute. It is also contrary to the public interest to delay 
clarification of this requirement and FMCSA's lack of authority to 
enforce regulations in light of the FRA's authority of this area. Thus, 
the Agency finds that this rule may be adopted without issuing an NPRM 
and receiving public comment.
    Similarly, the Agency finds the normal 30-day delayed effective 
date following publication of a rule does not apply. 5 U.S.C. 553(d). 
The APA exempts from the delayed effective date requirement ``a 
substantive rule which grants or recognizes an exemption or relieves a 
restriction.'' 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1). Pursuant to the RSIA of 2008, 
persons covered by the statutory provision have not been subject to 
FMCSA's HOS requirements since the enactment of the legislation. This 
rule simply makes FMCSA rules consistent with the statute. Therefore, a 
30-day delay in the effective date would serve no purpose as the Agency 
amends its rule to eliminate confusion among enforcement officials. The 
Agency further finds good cause for this rule to take effect upon 
publication under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) because, given that the rule 
results in no substantive change in the law, there is no need for the 
affected industry to prepare for its implementation.
    Although the RSIA of 2008 uses the term ``exemption'' to cover 
signal employees, in order to avoid confusion with the process that 
FMCSA uses to grant time-limited exemptions under 49 CFR part 381, 
today's final rule creates an ``exception.'' This exception, unlike an 
exemption, is permanent in nature, subject to our legal authority.

III. RSIA of 2008 Provisions Implemented by the Final Rule

    We implement section 108(c) of the RSIA of 2008 by adding paragraph 
(r) to Sec.  395.1, exempting signal employees who operate CMVs, but 
who are covered by laws applicable to railroad operations, from FMCSA 
HOS regulations.

Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and 
DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    FMCSA has determined that this action does not meet the criteria 
for a ``significant regulatory action'' either as specified in 
Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 as supplemented by E.O. 13563 issued by 
the President on January 18, 2011 (76 FR 3821), or within the meaning 
of the Department of Transportation regulatory policies and procedures 
(44 FR 11034, Feb. 26, 1979). Therefore, this rule has not been 
reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). There is no 
economic impact to this rule that would necessitate conducting a full 
regulatory evaluation. The rule simply codifies the elimination of 
FMCSA jurisdiction over railroad signal employees, pursuant to the RSIA 
of 2008. The RSIA of 2008 section 108(c) delegates the jurisdiction 
over the HOS, duty hours, and rest periods of signal employees 
exclusively to the FRA. See 49 U.S.C. 21104(a)-(e).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended by the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121, 
110 Stat. 857), FMCSA is not required to prepare a final regulatory 
flexibility analysis under 5 U.S.C. 604(a) for this final rule because 
the Agency has not issued an NPRM prior to this action. This final rule 
also complies with the President's memorandum of January 18, 2011, 
entitled Regulatory Flexibility, Small Business, and Job Creation (76 
FR 3827). As discussed above, promulgation of this final rule is a 
nondiscretionary ministerial act required by a statute and it creates a 
regulatory exception.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) 
requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary 
regulatory actions. However, as noted above, this is a non-
discretionary action mandated by statute, and such actions do not 
require preparation of a statement under 2 U.S.C. 1532. In addition, 
FMCSA is not required to prepare a statement for this final rule 
because the Agency has not issued an NPRM prior to this action. 2 
U.S.C. 1532.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    The regulations implementing E.O. 12372 regarding intergovernmental 
consultation on Federal programs and activities do not apply to this 

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The rule would call for no new collection of information under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). Given FRA's 
authority under the RSIA of 2008 to regulate the HOS for certain 
carriers previously regulated by FMCSA under 49 CFR part 395, FMCSA 
expects the population of affected entities subject to its HOS 
paperwork burden may be reduced slightly. However, due to the total 
number of entities covered, the impact to the burden from this change 
is expected to be de minimis. Therefore, FMCSA has not modified its 
burden estimate based on this final rule. FMCSA will consider this 
impact during its next planned update to the associated Information 
Collection Request.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The Agency analyzed this final rule in accordance with all 
statutory and regulatory policies under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and

[[Page 25590]]

determined under FMCSA environmental procedures Order 5610.1, published 
March 1, 2004 (69 FR 9680), that the provision of this rule is 
categorically excluded (CE) based on Appendix 2, section 6(b) of the 
FMCSA order. This is a technical amendment needed to conform the 
regulations to a statutory mandate. In addition to the NEPA 
requirements to examine impacts on air quality, the Clean Air Act (CAA) 
as amended (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.) also requires FMCSA to analyze the 
potential impact of its actions on air quality and to ensure that FMCSA 
actions conform to State and local air quality implementation plans. 
The additional contributions to air emissions from this action are 
expected to fall within the CAA de minimis standards and are not 
expected to be subject to the Environmental Protection Agency's General 
Conformity Rule (40 CFR parts 51 and 93).

Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This action meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of E.O. 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate 
ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    FMCSA has analyzed this action under E.O. 13045, Protection of 
Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. We 
determined that this final rule does not pose an environmental risk to 
health or safety that may disproportionately affect children.

Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    This final rule does not effect a taking of private property or 
otherwise have taking implications under E.O. 12630, Governmental 
Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property 

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism Assessment)

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in E.O. 13132, Federalism Assessment, and it has 
been determined that this rulemaking does not have a substantial direct 
effect or sufficient federalism implications for States that would 
limit the policymaking discretion of the States. Nothing in this 
document directly preempts any State law or regulation. This final rule 
does not impose additional costs or burdens on the States.

Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects)

    FMCSA has analyzed this final rule under E.O. 13211, Actions 
Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. We have determined that it is not a ``significant 
energy action'' under that Executive Order because it would not be 
likely to have an adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of 

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 395

    Highway safety, Motor carriers, Reporting and recordkeeping 
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Federal Motor 
Carrier Safety Administration amends 49 CFR part 395 as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 395 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 504, 31133, 31136, 31137, and 31502; sec. 
113, Pub. L. 103-311, 108 Stat. 1673, 1676; sec. 229, Pub. L. 106-
159 (as transferred by sec. 4115 and amended by secs. 4130-4132, 
Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144, 1726, 1743, 1744); sec. 4133, Pub. 
L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144, 1744; sec. 108, Pub. L. 110-432. 122 
Stat. 4860-4866; and 49 CFR 1.73.

2. Amend Sec.  395.1 to revise paragraph (a)(1) and add paragraph (r) 
to read as follows:

Sec.  395.1  Scope of the rules in this part.

    (a) * * *
    (1) The rules in this part apply to all motor carriers and drivers, 
except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (r) of this section.
* * * * *
    (r) Railroad signal employees. The provisions of this part shall 
not apply to a signal employee, as defined in Sec.  395.2, who operates 
a commercial motor vehicle, is engaged in installing, repairing, or 
maintaining signal systems, is employed by a railroad carrier or a 
contractor or subcontractor to a railroad carrier, while regulated by 
the Federal Railroad Administration.

3. Amend Sec.  395.2 by adding the definition ``signal employee'' in 
alphabetical order to read as follows:

Sec.  395.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Signal employee, as defined in 49 U.S.C. 21101(4), means an 
individual who is engaged in installing, repairing, or maintaining 
signal systems.
* * * * *

    Issued on: May 2, 2011.
Anne S. Ferro,
[FR Doc. 2011-11018 Filed 5-4-11; 8:45 am]

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