The American Trucking Associations (ATA) sent a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), claiming California's meal and rest break regulations for truck drivers contradict federal law, reported Transport Topics.
California holds truck drivers to the same standard as other employees when it comes to 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 ATA argues this lack of flexibility decreases driver safety and could negatively affect commerce in the state.
The day after the ATA submitted its letter, 12 members of Congress wrote to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao encouraging the department to review meal and rest break requirements nationwide.
"Under California rules, motor carriers are required to make a far greater number of breaks available to a driver than the federal HOS (Hours of Service) rules require, with far less flexibility than the federal rules allow," read the ATA's petition.
The petition says a state law can be superseded by a federal one if the Secretary of Labor determines that the state standard has no additional safety benefit or if enforcement places an "unreasonable burden on interstate commerce." ATA's petition is claiming just that.
Stakeholders had some hope the issue would have been resolved in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) making its way through Congress right now. However, language to create uniform rest and break standards for the entire country was removed from the latest version of the bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The Senate has yet to schedule a vote on the bill.
The rest and meal break debate is part of larger ongoing conversation regarding HOS requirements for truck drivers, exacerbated by the increased monitoring that came with the mandate of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in 2017.
The FMCSA sought public comment on various elements of the HOS regulations for truck drivers for 30 days ending this week.