When taking a break while hauling hazmats, make sure you're doing it right!
Understanding how to rightly claim the right duty status is already crucial if DOT ever inspects you. It is equally important to understand the regulatory requirements for taking your mandatory breaks, depending on the type of cargo you're hauling. When hauling hazardous materials, this affects your driving status to ensure the safety of other road users.
Read on to learn more about your 30-minute mandatory rest break, and how it affects your duty status.
How does the mandatory 30-minute break, when hauling hazardous materials (hazmats), affect my duty status? Does it change depending on the type of material classifications that I am hauling?
Unless a U.S. driver qualifies for the 100-air-mile exemption in Sec. 395.1(e)(1) or a special exemption, drivers hauling hazardous materials are subject to the requirement for a mandatory 30-minute break. This time must be spent "off duty" unless the driver is transporting Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives.
Drivers transporting these types of explosives are required to remain "on duty" at all times, while "attending" the load under the attendance and surveillance of motor vehicles requirements, as described in § 397.5. See the full description at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.
The requirements also include that if the vehicle is located on a public street, highway, or the shoulder of a public highway, the driver hauling such hazmat must always:
- maintain an unobstructed view;
- be within 100 feet of that vehicle.
Therefore, a driver in this scenario is allowed to show his/her mandatory break as "on duty," provided that he/she has annotated the in remarks section on the hours of service log to designate a 30-minute period as their break. A further requirement is that no other work is permitted by the driver, except for tending to this type of hazmat load during this break.
Other hazmat drivers who are required to attend their loads while operating on public highways under Sec. 397.5 that are not explicitly listed as Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives must be allowed to go "off duty" for their breaks unless the motor carrier is eligible for a special exemption.