FMCSA Gives Bus Drivers Exemption From California Rest-Break Rules

By Transport Topics

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted a petition submitted by the American Bus Association that exempts bus drivers from following California’s meal-and-rest-break rules.

In a Jan. 17 announcement, the agency said the rules are preempted under federal law as applied to passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers subject to FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations.

Federal law provides for preemption of state laws on commercial motor vehicle safety that are in addition to or more stringent than federal regulations if they have no safety benefit, are incompatible with federal regulations, or would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

In 2018, the agency ruled that property-carrying motor carriers are exempt from the California meal-and-rest-break regulations.

The California Labor Code requires that employers provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day, as well as a second duty-free, 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day, which differs from federal rest-break law.

The FMCSA found that the California meal-and-rest-break rules provided no safety benefit beyond the federal regulations, and that given the current shortage of available parking for CMVs, the required additional breaks adversely impacted safety because they exacerbated the problem of CMVs parking at unsafe locations.

The agency also determined that the California rules were incompatible with the federal hours-of-service regulations because they required employers to provide CMV drivers with more breaks at less flexible times.

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