Federal regulators are reviewing the company’s truck driver’s request for a full exemption from the Hours of Operation (HOS) and ELD rules, and the public will have an opportunity to comment.

In filing for the exemption, Ronnie Brown III, a driver for Gray Transportation in Waterloo, Iowa, argues that the one-size-fits-all aspect of the rules creates a safety hazard because the rules don’t always match his “natural sleep pattern, according to his statement filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In addition, the HOS is “a government mechanism to monitor my movements, which I see as a violation of my constitutional right to free movement and my right as a human being to make my own life choices regarding my work habits,” he said. according to his statement released on Friday.

In his own petition with public notice request for an exemption, FMCSA states that it must publish a notice in the Federal Register.

“The agency must provide the public with an opportunity to inspect information relevant to the application, including any safety analysis that has been conducted,” FMCSA said. “The agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request,” with a 30-day public comment period granted at Brown’s request.

Federal regulations also state that the application must explain not only why the applicant believes the exemption is necessary and how the applicant is affected by the regulations in question, but “how you will ensure that you can achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of security that will be obtained by following the rules’.

The application must also describe “the impact … you may experience if the exemption is not granted by FMCSA.”

According to Paul Taylor, managing partner of the Truckers Justice Center, which represents the interests of truck drivers, those clauses and other justifications were not in Brown’s application.

“The applicant does not provide any legitimate reason why he should have his personal exemption,” Taylor told FreightWaves. “If FMCSA were to grant such an exemption, it would be arbitrary and capricious and, upon review by an appellate court, would likely be reversed or overturned.”

Specifically, Brown is seeking a five-year exemption from federal motor carrier regulations, including:

  • Requirement of 10 consecutive hours of free time.
  • 11-hour driving limit.
  • 14 hour “driving window”.
  • Limits of 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days.
  • ELD regulations.

In addition to safety issues, Brown’s application focused on the economic impact of the HOS rules, arguing that they limit his work hours and thus the amount he earns.

“The 60/70 rule doesn’t allow me to work as many days as I want because of not enough hours to meet the rules,” Brown states. “It controls how much money I can make in a week while on the road,” equal to 8.75 hours a day for eight days. “If I work more than that in a day, I’ll have to sit at truck stops for 34 hours because I can’t pick up the clock.”

Brown emphasized that he is seeking an exemption that applies specifically to him, without affecting how his employer operates a fleet for other drivers.

When asked how his employee exemption — if granted — would affect the company’s operations, Gray Transportation President Darrin Gray told FreightWaves, “I don’t know enough about how the federal overtime exemption would work for one employee, to even comment on it.”

Summing up his plea for release, Brown told FreightWaves, “I take responsibility for everything I do. I know when I need to sleep and I know my reaction time. I don’t need to [the government] tell me these things.’

Will he succeed? “I don’t know. We will have to wait and see.”

Click to see John Gallagher’s other articles on FreightWaves.


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