Fuel Smarts

Pilot Program Would Relax HOS Rules For Heating Oil Deliveries

February 16, 2000

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a pilot program that would relax hours-of-service rules during winter months for some home heating oil delivery drivers.
Exemptions granted under the program would only cover deliveries within a 100-mile radius of a central terminal or distribution point. The program would cover qualifying interstate carriers and, in participating states, intrastate carriers.
Under the proposed program, heating oil delivery drivers would be allowed to “restart” the on-duty clock after they’ve had two consecutive nights off (midnight to 6 a.m.). That would exempt them from the rule which limits on-duty time to 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days if the carrier doesn’t operate every day of the week, or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days if the carrier runs every day of the week. (There is a recordkeeping exemption for drivers operating within a 100-mile radius of the home terminal but those drivers must be home every night with 8 hours rest between 12-hour shifts and maximum 10 hours driving time.)
An exemption was requested by the Petroleum Marketers Assn. of America which says that current hours-of-service rules can deprive consumers of heating oil during severe weather. However the idea dates back to 1995 when Congress ordered the U.S.Department of Transportation to develop a program that would provide more flexibility for heating oil deliveries. That program essentially died in the rulemaking process but FMCSA has incorporated many of those ideas here.
The exemptions would cover home deliveries only, not travel between terminals or distribution points. They would be effective from Nov. 1 thorugh April 30 for three consecutive seasons. To qualify both motor carriers and their drivers must have clean safety records and the motor carriers must comply with special accident reporting rules.
Comments on the proposal are due in writing April 17, 2000. The notice appeared in the Feb. 16 Federal Register which can be accessed at www.nara.gov/fedreg . For more information contact Larry Minor, Office of Bus and Truck Standards and Operations, (202) 366-4009.

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