In Michigan, You May Want to Give That Gas Tanker Truck Some Extra Space
In a post-apocalyptic world, tank trucks are driven non-stop to quench an unending thirst for fuel. Those drivers pilot their big rigs day and night, running on little sleep, as they plow through a desolate wasteland.
Now change “post-apocalyptic world” to “Michigan” and you have this week’s dumb decision made by governor Rick Snyder.
Snyder, as a way to deal with a “state of energy emergency” in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula caused by a pipeline shutdown, lifted driving time restrictions on heavy-duty truck drivers carrying gasoline and other transportation fuels.
Because nothing — nothing — can go wrong when you combine tired truck drivers and tons of flammable liquid.
By virtue of the power and authority vested in the Governor by the state of Michigan, Snyder issued Executive Order 2016-10 declaring a state of energy emergency in the state, which suspends driving time limits for truckers delivering gasoline to dried out gas stations.
The shortage is due to the shutdown of the West Shore pipeline in Wisconsin, which pumps gasoline to six terminals in Green Bay, reports the Detroit Free Press. It’s from those terminals that the Upper Peninsula receives most of its transportation fuel.
The problem is exacerbated by the Alberta wildfires and a Marathon Oil refinery shutdown limiting fuel supplies, said Snyder, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time — immediately before the Memorial Day long weekend.
The executive order ( which you can read here) suspends 49 CFR Part 395, which is a key safety law that regulates how much time truckers can consecutively drive and be on duty without rest.
49 CFR Part 395.3 states:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in § 395.1, no motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, unless the driver complies with the following requirements:
(1) Start of work shift. A driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty;
(2) 14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.
(3) Driving time and rest breaks. (i) Driving time. A driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
(ii) Rest breaks. Except for drivers who qualify for either of the short-haul exceptions in § 395.1(e)(1) or (2), driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.
But, hey, at least you’ll make it to grandma’s house — so long as you make sure to give those tanker trucks a very, very wide berth.
The executive order will remain in place until the end of the day, June 6, 2016, unless it’s rescinded beforehand.
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