MOTOR CARRIERS (HOURS-OF-SERVICE / OIL FIELD) / Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) responds to earlier public comments motor carrier rules about hours-of-service requirements for oilfield operations: First, for specially trained drivers of commercial motor vehicles that are built specifically to service the oil wells themselves (a lengthy specific list), the so-called “oilfield-waiting-time” provision will continue to exclude from on-duty time such time as they spend waiting at the well site (oil or gas). Second, commercial motor vehicles that transport equipment, water (for fracking) and sand (for fracking) – a list is given – do NOT qualify for the “oilfield-waiting-time” provision to exclude their waiting time at the well site from total hours-of-service calculation.

Note well: “Oilfield-waiting-time” has been the topic of debate in the industry since the old Interstate Commerce Commission first issued hours-of-service rules for motor carriers in 1939. The lists of those whose equipment and operations  qualify for the “oilfield-waiting-time” exclusion to hours-of-service and those whose equipment and operations do not qualify are long and detailed. And for those businesses who believe their equipment and operations are not adequately described, FMCSA invites them to apply for an exemption: “Therefore, motor carriers that believe the current oilfield operations exceptions do not provide sufficient relief for their operations should consider submitting an application for an exemption to the Agency describing an alternative that would ensure the requisite level of safety.”

“Hours of Service of Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles; Regulatory Guidance for Oilfield Exception”

August 12, 2013. Notice Of Regulatory Guidance; Response To Public Comments.

MOTOR CARRIERS (HOURS-OF-SERVICE / SHORT-HAUL) In its ruling on the third round of court challenges to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) most recent version of its hours-of-service rules originally issued in 2011, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in what the court called “a protracted rulemaking [that] traces its beginnings to 1999” – held: Affirmed the rule generally and vacated only the FMCSA’s application of the 30-minute break provision to short-haul drivers.

American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. FMCSA et al., No. 12-1092 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, August 2, 2013). Copy of court-issued opinion available here.

REMARKS / U.S. DOT / Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denies American Trucking Associations’ request to delay implementation of the hours-of-service rule. ATA’s argument: This rule currently pending before D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – trucker training and other efforts on HOS will be wasted if court strikes down the rule. FMCSA reply: No.

The text of the letter responds to the FMCSA’s letter and gets into the proverbial legal weeds about whether ATA is asking the DC Circuit for an injunction (it is not).

ATA’s point is that if the DC Circuit overturns the HOS rule it is currently reviewing for validity then the training and other efforts to comply with the then-invalidated rule would be a waste of resources for the industry.

ATA’s letter to FMCSA available here.

EMPLOYMENT & PREEMPTION / Rest break and meal provisions of California Labor Code are not preempted either by (1) federal FAAA Act de-regulating interstate trucking or (2) FMCSA hours of service regulations.

Mendez v. R+L Carriers, Inc., 2012 WL 5868973 (N.D.Cal. November 19, 2012): Core of the opinion is that the FAAA provides an express “safety” exemption from its preemptive coverage. If a state law relates to “the safety regulatory authority of a State with respect to motor vehicle” then FAAA does not preempt such a state provision. Free copy available here. 

Who is affected? Motor carriers who are governed by California law; commercial truck drivers who work for motor carriers who are governed by California law.

This is a class action of major proportions.

This sixteen-page opinion addresses in detail issues of express versus implied preemption, and under the latter: “field preemption” and “conflict preemption”.