- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ruled to pre-empt the state of California's meal and rest break laws, prohibiting the state from enforcing them further.
- Until this decision, California held truck drivers to the same standard as other employees regarding meal and rest breaks, requiring employees to take a 30-minute meal break for every five hours worked on shifts longer than six hours, and a 10-minute rest break every four hours worked. The federal standard, created specifically for truck drivers, requires a 30-minute break for every eight hours driving.
- This decision fulfills the wish of the American Trucking Associations, which petitioned the FMSCA to interfere with California's regulations in September, along with 12 members of Congress who wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requesting a nationwide review of meal and rest break laws.
Due to the necessity for trucks to cross state lines, California's break laws made cross-border operations difficult for carriers to manage, said proponents of this ruling.
"For fleets like mine, knowing the rules will be the same for my drivers regardless of what state they’re delivering to is important," said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president and CEO of Pottle’s Transportation, in a statement.
A statement from the FMCSA announcing the decision went so far as to relate the burden of compliance with the conflicting federal and state regulations to increasing costs for consumers.
In a public comment period ending in November 2018, the FMCSA reported that although the 120 organizations that weighed in were evenly split for and against pre-empting California's standards, the individuals who commented were overwhelming in favor (94%) of the change.
"During the public comment period, FMCSA heard directly from drivers, small business owners, and industry stakeholders that California’s meal and rest rules not only pose a safety risk, but also lead to a loss in productivity and ultimately hurt American consumers," said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez in a statement.