The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has chosen to deny a truck driver’s application for relief from Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations for himself only.

In a notice to be published in the Federal Register on January 19, the FMCSA formally announced its decision to deny an application from truck driver Ronnie Brown III requesting an exemption from five provisions of Federal HOS and ELD requirements. 

The agency concluded that “the exemption would not achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.”

In August 2022, Brown’s application was published in the Federal Register along with a call for public comments.

Brown requested five years of regulatory relief for himself from many parts of federal HOS and ELD regulations, including the 10 consecutive hour off-duty time requirement, the 11-hour driving limit, the 14-hour “driving window,” and 60 hour in 7 day and 70 hour in 8-day limits, as well as the ELD rule.

“Eld and hours of service as they are set make drivers such as myself to drive tired at times without the ability to stop for a nap without interfering with the hours of service for that day and can lose hours in a day because I can not legally drive tired. Also load and unload times impact my hours of service due to the length of time it takes most warehouses to unload a truck,” Brown said in a letter to the FMCSA.

Brown says that he has been operating commercial vehicles for more than 15 years.

“I can safely utilize my time in the loading and unloading docks to take naps during the process. I can safely drive and know when I am tired and do not push beyond my limits of safety no matter the amount of sleep I get or the length of drive time. I can maintain a safe distance from other vehicles no matter the situation on the road and have never had a preventable accident and only one non preventable accident in 2007,” Brown argued.

The FMCSA says that they received 1,223 comments on the request, almost all of which came from either owner-operators or individual truck drivers. According to the FMCSA, 587 comments supported the request, 119 opposed it, and 515 commenters did not offer a specific opinion for or against the request but instead offered general comments on ELD and HOS rules.

Several trucking safety groups commented to oppose Brown’s request, citing highway safety concerns.

“FMCSA evaluated Mr. Brown’s application and the public comments and denies the exemption request. Mr. Brown failed to establish that he would maintain a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level achieved without the exemption. The Agency established and enforces the HOS regulations to keep fatigued drivers off the public roadways. Research studies demonstrate that long work hours reduce sleep and harm driver health and that crash risk increases with work hours. The HOS regulations impose limits on when and how long an individual may drive to ensure that drivers stay awake and alert and to reduce the possibility of cumulative fatigue. The Agency agrees with commenters that if it exempts one individual from the HOS regulations, it could open the door for a huge number of similar exemption requests. Such a result would be inconsistent with a primary goal of the HOS regulations,” the FMCSA concluded.

Late last year, the FMCSA also denied a similar request from truck driver Leland Schmitt, Jr.

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