On June 9, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received an unusual request for an individual exemption from its Hours of Service (HOS) rules. Leland Schmitt Jr., is a 30-year trucking veteran leased to D & E Transport out of Clearwater, Minnesota. D & E is a company with 207 trucks and drivers working for it. The company has a satisfactory safety record, although 37 of the 225 vehicle inspections led to Out of Service (OOS) violations.
Schmitt is claiming in his application that the HOS rules are causing him bodily harm because he is having to sleep outside his circadian rhythm, the body’s natural sleep cycle. He says that the exemption would create a much safer environment because he would get the rest he needs, when he needs it. He cites his 30-year safe driving record as another reason to grant the request.
The current HOS structure calls for 11 hours of maximum drive time inside a 14-hour work shift. A driver must take a 30-minute break before surpassing 8 hours on duty or driving. A driver can not surpass 70 hours of work in the last 8 days without taking a 34-hour break to reset the clock.
Schmitt is trying the impossible in getting an individual HOS exemption
Schmitt is asking for a five-year exemption, but would agree to a single year. He would drive no more than 11 hours in a 24-hour period. He claims being managed by an electronic logging device (ELD) has caused him harm because it has forced him to work outside his body’s natural harmony. Schmitt suffered a heart attack in 2018 six months after he began using an ELD.
The recent exemptions for COVID-related supplies are also part of Schmitt’s letter. He lists the multitude of programs he has operated under that give leniency to the HOS. He also talks about the agricultural exemption on corn harvests and the rules for hauling oversized loads.
Schmitt posted scientific research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology that showed increased sleep time did not reduce tiredness. The public comment period runs 30 days through July 11, 2022, although the FMCSA has not made them available for public viewing. You can find the docket for Leland Schmitt’s application at this link.