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FMCSA exempts interstate motor carriers from California break rules

Agency says that laws posed safety risks for drivers

Posted December 27, 2018

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced Friday, December 21, to grant petitions preempting interstate motor carriers from the State of California’s meal and rest break rules, which differ from the federal hours-of-service regulations.

FMCSA granted a petition filed in September by the American Trucking Associations and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association. Under California requirements, an employee is entitled to a 30-minute meal period after five hours of work and a second 30-minute meal period after 10 hours of work. In addition, employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked.

FMCSA said more than 700 public comments were submitted to the Federal Register docket regarding the petitions.

In 1996, Congress preempted states from enacting or enforcing policies “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.” In this decision, FMCSA concluded that the meal and rest break laws provided no additional safety benefit and that a safety issue also existed because of limited parking in California, requiring drivers to take breaks in unsafe locations.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration previously granted an exemption from the National Truck Tank Carriers to preempt its drivers from the California law in September.

“Safety is FMCSA’s top priority and having uniform rules is a key component to increasing safety for our truck drivers,” said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez. “During the public comment period, FMCSA heard directly from drivers, small business owners, and industry stakeholders that California’s meal and rest rules not only pose a safety risk, but also lead to a loss in productivity and ultimately hurt American consumers.”

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