HOS Exemption Proposed for Short Anhydrous Ammonia Transport

Motor carriers transporting the chemical during the planting and harvesting seasons would be exempt from FMCSA's hours of service regulations if they are moving it 100 miles or less to a local farm retailer or to the ultimate consumer.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking comments until Aug. 13 on a proposed two-year exemption of some drivers and motor carriers from the federal hours of service regulations when they transport anhydrous ammonia from any distribution point to a local farm retailer or the ultimate consumer, so long as the trip is 100 air-miles or less from the retail or wholesale distribution point.

The chemical compound is stored under high pressure and widely used as fertilizer, with users handling it carefully to prevent spills.

FMCSA said it has reviewed crash data and believes the exemption "would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption, based on the terms and conditions imposed." The exemption would preempt "inconsistent" state and local requirements applicable to interstate commerce, the agency's Federal Register notice stated.

To be eligible, a motor carrier would have to have a "satisfactory" safety rating or be "unrated." Drivers for motor carriers with "conditional" or "unsatisfactory" safety ratings could not take advantage of the exemption.

A "satisfactory" rating means the carrier "has in place adequate safety management controls to comply with the Federal safety regulations, and that the safety management controls are appropriate for the size and type of operation of the motor carrier." An "unrated" carrier hasn't received an FMCSA on-site compliance review.

Any exempted company involved in an accident (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5) or an unintentional discharge of anhydrous ammonia would have to report within 10 business days the date of the accident; city or town where the accident occurred or city or town closest to the scene of the accident; driver's name and license number; vehicle number and state license number; number of injuries; number of fatalities; whether hazardous materials other than fuel spilled from the fuel tanks of accident vehicles were released; the police-reported cause of the accident; whether the driver was cited for violating any traffic laws, motor carrier safety regulations, or hazardous materials discharge; and whether the driver was operating under the exemption -- and, if so, an estimate of the total driving time, on-duty time for the day of the accident, and each of the seven calendar days prior to the accident.

To submit a comment, visit www.regulations.gov and use Docket Number FMCSA-2010-0230.

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