Guest post by FreightWaves’ John Gallagher
Approximately 3,580 drivers working for McLane subsidiary Transco Inc. will be exempt from the federal government’s 30-minute rest break rule.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted the exemption because Transco, whose drivers make wholesale deliveries to grocery and convenience stores, was able to show that it will likely achieve a level of safety “equivalent to or greater than” safety levels achieved without it.
“For the typical long-haul [commercial motor vehicle] driver, the 30-minute rest break serves as an opportunity to break the monotony of driving and relieve some of the stress of continuous driving, but Transco’s drivers currently have breaks, which include physical exercise, several times each day,” the agency stated in its ruling, published on August 27. Instead, the exemption will allow Transco drivers to comply with the 30-minute rest break requirement while performing on-duty, non-driving tasks.
The FMCSA noted that drivers for Transco use approximately 1,700 trucks, almost all of which are equipped with sleeper berths pulling 48- or 53-foot trailers. The division operates in a similar way to a short-haul trucking operation – which is also exempt from the 30-minute rest break, the company informed the agency due to its low-mileage hauls and multiple deliveries using team drivers.
Total trip times average 17.2 hours, but total driving time for both drivers averages only 9.1 hours, according to Transco’s application, with each driver spending on average 32.5 percent of his/her shift engaged in driving.
Other factors the agency found that reduce the company’s safety risk are that drivers are usually assigned to specific schedules and routes and return home at the end of every trip, and they take frequent breaks from driving to unload trucks.
The FMCSA received 10 comments on Transco’s application, which was filed in October 2018. Most were in support, including those from the International Food Distributors Association (IFDA), the Convenience Distribution Association and the National Association of Wholesale Distributors. IFDA commented that the agency should eliminate the 30-minute rest break for all short-haul drivers, or allow them to use on-duty non-driving time as a part of the proposed changes in the hours of service regulation.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters opposed Transcos request, noting that the company had not sufficiently shown that granting it will achieve the required levels of safety.