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FMCSA is Considering a 5-year Special Waiver for the Propane Industry

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is allowing the public 30 days to comment on the request submitted by the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) to limit hours-of-service restrictions to help the propane industry respond to increased consumer demand. A notice was published in the Federal Register this past Friday, September 30, 2022.

In the petition filed with FMCSA, National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) requests a five-year exemption for its member company drivers to extend the 14-hour duty period in § 395.3(a)(2) to no more than 17 hours; to extend the 11-hour driving period in § 395.3(a)(3) to no more than 14 hours, following 10 consecutive hours off duty; to waive the 60- and 70-hour rules in § 395.3(b) for a period of no more than six consecutive days, and a period of six consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.

The purpose of their request is to efficiently and safely prepare and serve residential, commercial, and agricultural consumers ahead of and during peak consumption periods.

NPGA outlined the many circumstances that typically lead to peak demand in its petition to the FMCSA, including:

• Railcar delays in excess of five business days;

• Interruption of electricity services;

• Interruption of natural gas services;

• Limitation of pipeline services due to pipeline allocation;

• Weather- and storm-related events;

• Interruption of normal operations due to flu and COVID-19.

Long and short-haul propane drivers often reach the maximum operating hours-of-service (HOS) weekly limits within 3 or 4 days, and subsequently, operations experience reductions in available drivers while consumer demand continues.

Comments to FMCSA are due no later than October 31, 2022.

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