FMCSA now allowing US carriers to work with Mexican lease operators, extending rest-break exemption

Nov. 22, 2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration (FMCSA) announced in the November 22 issue of the Federal Register that it is now allowing US carriers to enter into lease agreements for commercial motor vehicle tractors and trailers with Mexican-domiciled carriers. 

This practice had been banned until the US government certified that Mexico was living up to the trucking safety requirements written into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), according to Boyd Stephenson, National Tank Truck Carriers senior vice-president of government affairs. FMCSA has now officially recognized that Mexico has done so.

This recognition means that US-domiciled carriers are now free to enter into leasing agreements with Mexican-domiciled carriers, Stephenson said. Equipment leased through such agreements can travel anywhere in the United States, not just within the commercial zones near US-Mexico border crossings.

Leased equipment can also be used for point-to-point commerce wholly within the United States. Lease agreements with Mexican-domiciled carriers are subject to the same requirements as lease requirements with other US-domiciled carriers, which can be found at 49 CFR Part 376.

Separately, FMCSA also announced an extension of the hours of service 30-minute rest break exemption for motor carriers that transport security-sensitive hazmat. Under that exemption, motor carriers that transport security-sensitive hazardous materials can direct their drivers to remain on-duty during their 30-minute rest break. The extension now runs through August 20, 2020.

During that time, the driver may only remain on duty to exercise constant attendance over the vehicle and must log the time as on duty, not driving. This exemption applies to all hazmat transport if the carrier transports security-sensitive hazardous materials and directs their drivers to maintain constant attendance over all hazmat loads.