Commenters Back Association's Bid for Hours Exemption

Two of the waste & recycling industry's largest companies submitted comments in support and asserted that electronic logging devices are incompatible with their industry. "The end result is that ELDs will distract drivers by requiring constant interaction with the ELDs and potentially compromise safety," Waste Management's comments stated.

Organizations submitting comments about an application from the National Waste & Recycling Association for an exemption from one of the criteria for using the "short-haul—100 air-mile radius driver" exception to the requirement for the preparation and retention of hours of service records. NWRA has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow all short-haul commercial motor vehicle drivers in the waste and recycling industry up to 14 hours (instead of the current 12 hours) to return to their original work reporting location without losing their short-haul status.

FMCSA requested public comments by April 29 on the exemption application, and about a dozen organizations submitted comments, nearly all in support of granting the exemption for the entire waste & recycling industry.

Some of the industry's largest companies commented in support. Waste Management, the largest waste collection and disposal company in North America, with 18,500 heavy-duty trash trucks in its fleet, noted that it requested the same exemption and received it in October 2018. Jeff Martin, vice president of Safety Services for Waste Management, explained in the company's comments that the purpose of requiring drivers to return to their reporting location within 12 hours, to avoid fatigued driving, is not as critical an issue for waste and recycling drivers -- who are stopping frequently during their workday, and thus resting from driving during those stops -- as it is for long-haul drivers.

Shawn Mandel, vice president of Safety & Risk for Waste Connections, which is the third-largest waste collection company in North America, with more than 12,000 heavy-duty trucks operating in 43 states and six Canadian provinces, explained in the company's comments that "[a]llowing an increase of time will give the drivers the flexibility to address customer service needs, complete thorough pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections, and make the longer, but safer decisions concerning the completion of their routes."

Both companies' comments assert that electronic logging devices are incompatible with their industry. "The end result is that ELDs will distract drivers by requiring constant interaction with the ELDs and potentially compromise safety," Waste Management's comments stated.

Under FMCSA's current hours-of-service rules, drivers are not required to prepare and maintain records of duty status (RODS) provided that (among other things) they return to their normal work reporting location and are released from work within 12 hours after coming on duty. A driver who exceeds the 12-hour limit loses the short-haul exception and must immediately prepare RODS for the entire day, often by means of an ELD.

The National Waste & Recycling Association represents approximately 700 publicly traded and privately owned waste and recycling companies that, combined, operate more than 100,000 waste and recycling collection trucks and employ even more CMV drivers. In its application, NWRA indicated its members represent approximately 70 percent of the private-sector waste and recycling market.

Drivers in the asphalt-paving business were granted a similar exemption, NWRA pointed out, arguing that granting a broader exemption would create regulatory consistency across the entire waste and recycling industry. NWRA also asserted that waste and recycling carriers have virtually no record of hours violations in FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Safety Measurement System BASIC scores, nor is there a history of CSA intervention consequences for hours non-compliance with these carriers. NWRA further adds that there is no equivalent or greater level of safety that ELDs would bring to the waste and recycling industry.

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