Will motor carriers with drivers in Washington and California have to deal with dueling driver work rules?  -  HDT/Canva graphic

Will motor carriers with drivers in Washington and California have to deal with dueling driver work rules?

HDT/Canva graphic

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is asking for comments on petitions requesting waivers of the agency's 2018 and 2020 decisions that said federal hours of service rules pre-empted state meal and rest break rules in California and Washington state.

In August, the FMCSA stunned the industry by saying it would consider such petitions.

Before the agency decided in 2018 and 2020 that the state meal and rest break rules were preempted by federal regulations, trucking companies often faced class action lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in penalties for violations of the state rules.

California and Washington Rest Break and Meal Rules

California requires employers to provide non-exempt employees a 30-minute meal break if they work more than 5 hours in a day, and employees who work a shift of 10 hours or more are entitled to a second 30-minute meal break.

Washington says employers must provide employees a meal period of at least 30 minutes that starts after the second hour and before the fifth hour of the shift, as well as 10-minute rest period for each four hours of working time.

In its 2018 decision, the DOT said California’s meal and rest break law was incompatible with federal regulations and caused a disruption in interstate commerce. It found that confusing and conflicting requirements at the state and federal level were overly burdensome for drivers and reduced productivity, increasing costs for consumers.

While most trucking groups agreed with the 2018 decision, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters blasted it, saying, “FMCSA’s suggestion that California’s meal and rest break rules negatively impact highway safety is ludicrous.”

What FMCSA Wants to Know

Waiver petitions were filed by:

  • The International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
  • The Truck Safety Coalition, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers.
  • William B. Trescott.
  • The State of California.

FMCSA is asking for comments on any issues raised in the petitions for waivers, and on the following issues:

  1. Whether and to what extent enforcement of a state's meal and rest break laws with respect to intrastate commercial vehicle drivers has impacted the health and safety of drivers.
  2. Whether enforcement of state meal and rest break laws as applied to interstate commercial drivers will make truck parking shortage worse, and whether any such effect will burden interstate commerce or create additional dangers to drivers and the public.
  3. Whether enforcement of a state's meal and rest break laws will dissuade carriers from operating in that state.
  4. Whether enforcement of a state's meal and rest break laws will weaken or otherwise impact the resiliency of the national supply chain.

Comments must be received on or before Feb. 26, 2024.

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