Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
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. FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in the
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
Trailways (Adirondack Trailways, Pine Hill Trailways, and New York Trailways) offers scheduled passenger-carrier service throughout New York State and to the nearby Canadian cities of Montreal and Toronto. Trailways states that its exemption application is for fixed-route carriers and their drivers who are often away from the controls of the vehicle for brief periods of time of less than 10 minutes to assist passengers or make one of several passenger pick-ups and drop-offs along the route.
Trailways advises that until March 2011 they and other motor carriers had been operating in accordance with a 1996 interpretation of 49 CFR 395.8(c) issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The 1996
Instead of complying with the provisions in 49 CFR 395.8(c), Trailways requests that their drivers with regularly scheduled routes be exempted from changing their duty status from “driving” to “on-duty not driving” when making stops of less than 10 minutes.
Trailways notes that the 1996 rule interpretation reduces the amount of total time a driver can drive in a duty period. Without the 1996 interpretation, the times drivers spend at stops to load passengers, freight, etc. would be logged as on-duty/not driving, increasing the driving time available, but creating an additional administrative distraction every time the driver leaves the controls regardless of the reason or the limited amount of time away from the vehicle controls. Trailways further advises that their carriers provide flag stops and that having to update the log at each flag stop increases the amount of time that the motorcoach may be delaying traffic while waiting for the pick-up and/or discharge of passengers and luggage, and then waiting for the driver to update the log before continuing the route. According to Trailways, in many instances the large number of brief stops will not fit on the log if the driver makes all of the required entries.
Trailways notes that the maximum possible driving time would be reduced and that traffic congestion could be reduced. FMCSA believes this would ensure that operations under the exemption would be at least as safe as operations that comply with the requirements on change of duty status.
FMCSA is extending Trailways' request to be on behalf of all regular-route for-hire passenger-carrier drivers because the same need for the exemption likely applies to them as well as Trailways. Including all regular-route for-hire passenger carrier drivers in the exemption will preclude the need for other carriers to file identical exemption requests, and will provide for consistent enforcement because the same provisions would be applied to all similar scenarios involving brief stops by drivers of these carriers during their regular-route operations.
A copy of Trailways' exemption application is available for review in the docket for this notice.
In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b)(4), FMCSA requests public comment on the Trailways application for an exemption from certain provisions of the driver's record of duty status rules in 49 CFR part 395. The Agency will consider all comments received by close of business on October 31, 2012. Comments will be available for examination in the docket at the location listed under the