Under current regulations, drivers operating within a 100 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location do not have to keep logbooks if they return to the work reporting location and are released from work within 12 consecutive hours, they are off duty at least 8 consecutive hours between each 12 hours of on-duty time, they don’t exceed 10 hours driving time following 8 hours off duty, and the motor carrier maintains detailed time records.
Van Wyk Freight Lines, an LTL carrier based in Grinnell, IA, said in its exemption request that its drivers exceed the 100-mile limit and sometimes remain on duty for 15 hours; but they normally work a 10-hour day, take at least an 8-hour break between each tour of duty, return to the same point of origin at the end of each shift, don’t exceed 10 hours of driving time on any given shift, and don’t work Saturdays or Sundays. The company keeps track of drivers’ hours through an electronic time clock that indicates the start time, number of hours on duty, and the time the driver gets off work each day. It can also show at least 12 months of driver “activity” through computerized payroll records.
Under expanded authority granted by Congress in 1998, OMCS can exempt carriers or drivers from certain regulations if doing so will maintain or at least not degrade the current level of safety. The agency said Van Wyk failed to show how that requirement would be met. It also argued that allowing Van Wyk to operate without log books “would make it difficult both for the motor carrier and enforcement officials to ensure compliance with the maximum driving time regulations.” OMCS said the electronic time records only prove when a driver reports for work and when a driver is released from work. Van Wyk, it said “has not indicated how, or even whether, it intend to carefully review drivers’ assignments to supplement the electronic time records.”
Before making a final ruling, OMCS must open the application to public comment. The deadline in this case is January 26, 2000. For more information see the December 27 Federal Register, available on the Internet at www.access.gpo, or the docket managemen system at http://dms.dot.gov. Reference document number OMCS-99-6579.