What if you didn't need 10 after 11 or 14 in the hours of service? This owner aims to find out

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Updated Jun 22, 2022

For this edition of Overdrive Radio, I'm joined by Lee and Lisa Schmitt of Wisconsin. As regular readers may well be aware, Lee's requested an exemption from parts of the hours of service for himself -- it’s the first such exemption request for an individual owner I’ve seen hit the Federal Register and go up for comment in quite some time, a testament perhaps to the methodical nature of the Schmitts' pursuit of it. It’s not like it's particularly difficult, though, to break through the dam, as it were, of the federal regulatory system, as Lisa noted in the podcast.

Exemption requests and what's required of them is all laid in the regs themselves, in 49 CFR 381.310

Having essentially followed the instructions laid out there, the Schmitts' request was posted to the Federal Register and put up for comment last week, and since 600 comments have been filed. But there’s been some confusion among some in the Overdrive audience, I know, about just what Lee Schmitt is asking for here.

Lee and Lisa SchmittLee and Lisa SchmittIn a word, flexibility -- to use a daily 11 hours’ worth of driving however he sees fit. He asks for exemption from the requirement to take a 10-hour break, from the 14-hour rule daily duty maximum, from the cumulative 60 in 7 days and/or 70 in 8 days duty limitations.

But, crucially, not from the 11-hour maximum daily drive time limits, a fact lost on some readers who didn’t fully engage with the hours of service exemption request’s summary, as Lee noted in the podcast today. 

That fact wasn’t lost on everyone, though. What appears to have been among the first of the comments filed to the exemption request's docket came from one James Berns: 

Allowing drivers the flexibility to sleep when they’re tired and drive when they are rested is much safer than forcing them to stay off duty for 10 hours, then potentially drive when they are tired. This should be an option for all drivers.

And that, with experience and proven safety, is part of what the Schmitts are hoping for when it comes to the ultimate fate of what they’re requesting. Hear more about it in the podcast: 

Comments are open on the exemption through July 11. 

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Also in today's podcast:  

cap on dean desantis' hood ornamentWe pause to remember owner-operator Troy Huddleston of Illinois, who passed away unexpectedly June 7. He was just 54 years old, and at the Shell Rotella SuperRigs competition this past weekend, owner-operators there who knew him memorialized Huddleston in a few ways, including by placing a signature of Huddleston's, this black Roadworks ball cap, over their hood ornaments. On the podcast we air for listeners recollections of and tributes to owner-operator Huddleston with several owners my colleague and Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole caught up with at the event. Catch a video version of the recollections via this link, if you missed it as yet. My sincerest condolences to Huddleston's family.