WASHINGTON – A Minnesota truck driver is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for a five-year exemption from the federal hours of service (HOS) regulation, citing that they are not in line with his sleeping pattern and, as a result, his health is in jeopardy.
In a document filed on the Federal Register by the FMCSA, Leland Schmitt Jr. states that “the mandatory 10 hour off-duty break goes against his natural sleep patterns, as his normal nighttime sleep while in the CMV is between five to seven hours.”
The FMCSA is currently seeking comments on the request. Click here to comment.
The FMCSA document states that Schmitt is an owner-operator currently leased to D&E Transport in Clearwater, Minnesota, who has been driving commercial vehicles for 30 years.
The FMCSA notes that the request was submitted by him personally and not on behalf on D&E.
In his original filing, Schmitt wrote: “This exemption is needed for health and safety reasons, and for the fact that I am 50 years old … I would be willing to submit to a one year exemption, with an extension possible with no driving safety violations.”
Schmitt’s filing continued: “The level of safety achieved by granting this exemption would be better than if complying with the regulations … because my body would receive the rest it needs, when it needs it. This would be achieved because at the age of 50, I am able to recognize when my body needs rest and when I am safe enough to drive on the nation’s roadways. The level of safety under this exemption would be at least the same, if not more than it is now, based on my 30 years of safe driving experience.”
Schmitt wrote that the 10 hour mandatory break “goes against my natural sleep patterns.”
“My normal nighttime sleep while I am in the truck is between 5-7 hours,” Schmitt wrote.
“Currently I find myself just sitting and waiting for the ELD to tell me when I can go. This is wasting productive time. During my adulthood, I have been able to take a short 15-30 minute naps and be refreshed and able to drive for 6-8 hours. However, due to the 14 hour clock, this means I lose that time to be able to earn a living. By granting this exemption, you will allow me to better serve my my customers without jeopardizing my resting habits and safety.”
Schmitt closes his petition by writing: “I am experienced enough to be able to decide when my body is not fatigued and able to be safe. I fear my health is in jeopardy if I continue to comply with these regulations. In July of 2018, just six months after the instituting of the ELD, I suffered a heart attack, while driving down the road under a load. I recovered, fortunately and was able to return to driving. However, as I age, I fear that if my body is not able to rest when it needs to, that I will have a repeat heart attack. I would not want this to happen again, going down the road. Granting this exemption would allow me to take rest/nap breaks as my body sees fit, and not be in violation of the 14 hour rule, which would penalize my ability to earn a living. I am also attaching a link to a sleep study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that finds no impact from more night sleep, though naps help.”
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