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FMCSA Grants Petitions to Ensure Safe and Uniform Rest Rules in California for Truck Drivers

 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) grants petitions requesting a determination that the State of California’s Meal and Rest Break rules are preempted under 49 U.S.C. § 31141 as applied to property carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers covered by the FMCSA’s Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

FMCSA is granting this petition to ensure uniform and consistent rules in order to promote safety and economic growth. Drivers, consumers, and job creators are best served by reliable and consistent rules. 

This action prioritizes safety, jobs, and uniformity for truck drivers.  

SAFETY

Uniform rules in and out of California is important for safety.  According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, truck parking shortage “increases closer to the California border,” where “more crashes are occurring,” likely as “a result of encountering troubles finding safe and adequate parking.” Safety is FMCSA’s top priority and making uniform rules is a key component to increasing safety.  

COST OF GOODS 

California’s extra rules reduce productivity and are a drag on the economy. For example, FedEx stated that “California rules have resulted in a costly loss to driver productivity,” and the National Retail Federation explained that a member company reported that due to the MRB rules, the company’s drivers in California had a 3% reduction in productivity compared to drivers in the balance of the country, which cost the company $1.5 million annually. Every bit of loss productivity increases costs to consumers and hurts hard-working American families.  

UNIFORMITY

Different rules in different states add needless burdens on drivers – many of whom are small businesses fighting to make ends meet in a competitive market. According to the Oregon Trucking Associations, “the California rules can create significant confusion for out-of-state drivers used to uniform federal rules and enormous operational hurdles for Oregon carries sending trucks into California.” A patchwork of regulations disrupts interstate commerce and is not an effective or fair way to regulate the industry. 

Ultimately, this action by FMCSA is an important step toward creating a more reliable and consistent regulatory environment for truck drivers. A consistent set of rules directly benefits drivers, consumers, small businesses, and the American economy.

LEGAL OPINION ON APPLICABILITY TO PENDING LAWSUITS

FMCSA’s Office of the Chief Counsel has issued a Legal Opinion addressing the Agency’s views on the applicability of its preemption determinations to pending lawsuits.  The Legal Opinion states that FMCSA’s view is that once the agency issues a preemption decision under Section 31141, the preempted State law or regulation may not thereafter be enforced as to the activity or persons covered by the preemption determination.  Among other things, an FMCSA preemption decision precludes courts from granting relief pursuant to the preempted State law or regulation with regard to the activity or persons in question at any time following issuance of the decision.  An FMCSA preemption decision has this effect regardless of whether the conduct at issue in the lawsuit occurred before or after the decision was issued, and regardless of whether the lawsuit was filed before or after the decision was issued.

FMCSA Legal Opinion Regarding Applicability of Preemption Decision to Pending Lawsuits

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Final Determination Document (PDF)
News Statement 

Letters of Supporting Petitions to Preempt
American Trucking Associations (ATA) Petition (PDF)
Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SCRA) Petition (PDF)
Western States Trucking Association Petition (PDF)
Oregon Trucking Associations Letter of Support (PDF)
Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference Letter of Support (PDF)
Bipartisan Congressional Letter - September 25, 2018 (PDF)
United States Senate Letter - October 29, 2018 (PDF)

Updated: Friday, March 22, 2019
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