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Notice

Hours of Service (HOS) of Drivers; American Pyrotechnics Assn. (APA) Application for Exemption From the 14-Hour Rule; Request To Add New Member to Current APA Exemption

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AGENCY:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

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ACTION:

Notice of application for exemption; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), has requested an exemption for a member company, Pyro Shows of Alabama, Inc., from the prohibition on driving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) after the 14th hour after the driver comes on duty. Fifty-one APA members currently hold such an exemption during the Independence Day period each year, terminating on July 8, 2020. If granted, this exemption would terminate at the same time as the other 51 exempted carriers. The APA maintains that the terms and conditions of the limited exemption would ensure a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption.

DATES:

June 14, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2007-28043 using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251

Each submission must include the Agency name and the docket number for this notice. Note that DOT posts all comments received without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information included in a comment. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The on-line FDMS is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. If you want acknowledgment that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgement page that appears after submitting comments on-line.

Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/​privacy.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Thomas Yager, Chief, FMCSA Driver and Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety Standards; Telephone: 614-942-6477. Email: MCPSD@dot.gov. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Public Participation and Request for Comments

FMCSA encourages you to participate by submitting comments and related materials.

Submitting Comments

If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this notice (FMCSA-2007-28043), indicate the specific section of this document to which the comment applies, and provide a reason for suggestions or recommendations. You may submit your comments and material online or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. FMCSA recommends that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of your document so the Agency can contact you if it has questions regarding your submission.

To submit your comment online, go to www.regulations.gov and put the docket number, “FMCSA-2007-28043” in the “Keyword” box, and click “Search.” When the new screen appears, click on “Comment Now!” button and type your comment into the text box in the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then submit. If you submit your comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 81/2 by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope.

Viewing Comments and Documents

To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, “FMCSA-2007-28043” in the “Keyword” box and click “Search.” Next, click “Open Docket Folder” button and choose the document listed to review. If you do not have access to the Internet, you may view the docket online by visiting the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the DOT West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

II. Legal Basis

FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant exemptions from certain parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request.

The Agency reviews the safety analyses and the public comments, and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(b)) with the reason for the grant or denial, and, if granted, the specific person or class of persons receiving the exemption, and the regulatory provision or provisions from which exemption is granted. The notice must also specify the effective period of the exemption (up to 5 years), and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

APA Application for Exemption

The HOS rule in 49 CFR 395.3(a)(2) prohibits the driver of a property-carrying CMV from driving after the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. In 2016, the APA, a trade association representing the domestic fireworks industry was granted exemptions for 51 member companies through the annual Independence Day periods ending on July 8, 2020 [81 FR 43701, July 5, 2016]. APA has requested an exemption for Pyro Shows of Alabama Incorporated, USDOT 2859710, which would increase the total to 52. The exemption for this APA carrier, if granted, would expire on July 8, 2020. Although this is less than the 5-year exemption period authorized by 49 U.S.C. 31315(b)(2), as amended by section 5206(a)(3) of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Start Printed Page 22377(FAST) Act (Pub. L. 114-94, 129 Stat. 1312, 1537, Dec. 4, 3015), FMCSA believes that the interests of the APA members and the Agency would best be served by harmonizing, as far as possible, the expiration dates of all such fireworks-related exemptions. Like the other 51 member companies, Pyro Shows of Alabama would be subject to all of the terms and conditions of the exemption.

The initial APA application for relief from the 14-hour rule was submitted in 2004; a copy is in the docket. That application fully describes the nature of the pyrotechnic operations of CMV drivers during a typical Independence Day period.

As stated in the 2004 request, the CMV drivers employed by APA member companies are trained pyro-technicians who hold commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) with hazardous materials (HM) endorsements. They transport fireworks and related equipment by CMVs on a very demanding schedule during a brief Independence Day period, often to remote locations. After they arrive, the drivers are responsible for set-up and staging of the fireworks shows.

The APA states that it is seeking an additional exemption for Pyro Shows of Alabama, Incorporated because compliance with the current 14-hour rule in 49 CFR 395.3(a)(2) would impose a substantial economic hardship on numerous cities, towns and municipalities, as well as its member companies. To meet the demand for fireworks without the exemptions, APA states that its member companies would be required to hire a second driver for most trips. The APA advises that the result would be a substantial increase in the cost of the fireworks shows—beyond the means of many of its members' customers—and that many Americans would be denied this important component of the celebration of Independence Day.

Method To Ensure an Equivalent or Greater Level of Safety

The APA believes that the exemption would not adversely affect the safety of the fireworks transportation provided by this motor carrier. According to APA, its member companies have operated under this exemption for 10 previous Independence Day periods without a reported motor carrier safety incident. Moreover, it asserts, without the extra time provided by the exemption, safety would decline because APA drivers would be unable to return to their home base after each show. They would be forced to park the CMVs carrying HM 1.1G, 1.3G and 1.4G products in areas less secure than the motor carrier's home base. As a condition of holding the exemption, each motor carrier is required to notify FMCSA within 5 business days of any accident (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5) involving the operation of any its CMVs while under this exemption. To date, FMCSA has received no accident notifications, nor is the Agency aware of any accidents reportable under terms of the prior APA exemptions.

In its exemption request, APA asserts that the operational demands of this unique industry minimize the risks of CMV crashes. In the last few days before July 4, these drivers transport fireworks over relatively short routes from distribution points to the site of the fireworks display, and normally do so in the early morning when traffic is light. At the site, they spend considerable time installing, wiring, and safety-checking the fireworks displays, followed by several hours off duty in the late afternoon and early evening prior to the event. During this time, the drivers are able to rest and nap, thereby reducing or eliminating the fatigue accumulated during the day. Before beginning another duty day, these drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off duty, the same as other CMV drivers.

Terms and Conditions of the Exemption

Period of the Exemption

The requested exemption from 49 CFR 395.3(a)(2) would be effective from June 28 through July 8, at 11:59 p.m. local time, each year through 2020.

Terms and Conditions of the Exemption

During the 2017 Independence Day period, the exemption from 49 CFR 395.3(a)(2) would be limited to drivers employed by the 51 motor carriers already covered by the exemption, plus (if approved) the one carrier now seeking an exemption. Section 395.3(a)(2) prohibits a driver from driving a CMV after the 14th hour after coming on duty and does not permit off-duty periods to extend the 14-hour limit. Drivers covered by this exemption would be able to exclude off-duty and sleeper-berth time of any length from the calculation of the 14-hour limit. This exemption would be contingent on each driver driving no more than 11 hours in the 14-hour period after coming on duty, as extended by any off-duty or sleeper-berth time in accordance with this exception. The exemption would be further contingent on each driver having a full 10 consecutive hours off duty following 14 hours on duty prior to beginning a new driving period. The carriers and drivers must comply with all other requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 CFR parts 350-399) and Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR parts 105-180).

Preemption

In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315(d), as implemented by 49 CFR 381.600, during the period this exemption is in effect, no State shall enforce any law or regulation applicable to interstate commerce that conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption with respect to a firm or person operating under the exemption. States may, but are not required to, adopt the same exemption with respect to operations in intrastate commerce.

FMCSA Notification

Exempt motor carriers would be required to notify FMCSA within 5 business days of any accidents (as defined by 49 CFR 390.5) involving the operation of any of their CMVs while under this exemption. The notification must be by email to MCPSD@DOT.GOV and include the following information:

a. Name of the Exemption: “APA”

b. Date of the accident,

c. City or town, and State, in which the accident occurred, or which is closest to the scene of the accident,

d. Driver's name and driver's license State, number, and class,

e. Co-Driver's name and driver's license State, number, and class,

f. Vehicle company number and power unit license plate State and number,

g. Number of individuals suffering physical injury,

h. Number of fatalities,

i. The police-reported cause of the accident,

j. Whether the driver was cited for violation of any traffic laws, or motor carrier safety regulations, and

k. The total driving time and the total on-duty time of the CMV driver at the time of the accident.

In addition, if there are any injuries or fatalities, the carrier must forward the police accident report to MCPSD@DOT.GOV as soon as available.

Termination

The FMCSA does not believe the motor carriers and drivers covered by this exemption, if granted, would experience any deterioration of their safety record.

However, should this occur, FMCSA would take all steps necessary to protect the public interest, including revocation of the exemption. The FMCSA will immediately revoke the exemption for failure to comply with its terms and conditions. Exempt motor carriers and Start Printed Page 22378drivers would be subject to FMCSA monitoring while operating under this exemption.

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Dated: May 8, 2017.

Larry W. Minor,

Associate Administrator for Policy.

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[FR Doc. 2017-09735 Filed 5-12-17; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P