The federal Department of Transportation is clarifying a new rule regulating how much time truck drivers hauling materials to and from drilling sites can spend on the road. Drivers are limited to 14 hours a day, and the DOT says time spent loading and unloading material needs to count toward that limit.
The clarification comes two weeks after a New York Times report about how many drivers were working more than 14 hours by not counting on-site time.
Truck drivers hauling water and sand to U.S. oil and natural gas shale wells can’t extend their daily on-duty hours by using an exemption targeted for special oil- field service equipment, the government said.
Time spent waiting while water and sand are unloaded at well sites counts toward the maximum 14 hours a day that a truck driver can work, the Transportation Department said in a rule clarification to be published today in the Federal Register. Some drivers may be using an exemption for equipment such as pumps or gas separators that let operators subtract from the limit the time waiting for gear to be unloaded, said Boyd Stephenson, director of hazardous materials policy at the Arlington, Virginia-based American Trucking Associations.