The Business Council of New York State, Inc., supports the above referenced legislation which would amend section 214 of the state Transportation law to exempt employees whose primary employment is not as a driver of a motor truck but who drive only as an incidental part of their employment and who are engaged in the emergency restoration of telephone services. This change would allow telephone services to be included in the limited exemption from current Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations dealing with “hours of service” restrictions.
Initially, the “hours of service” regulations were designed to prohibit persons from driving motor
trucks for unreasonably extended periods of time without sufficient rest. Telephone utility truck drivers must currently comply with these regulations even though they do not spend their entire shifts driving the truck. In fact, utility repair workers spend a relatively small portion of their time driving these vehicles. They are not primarily truck drivers, but rather repair men who only incidentally operate trucks while performing emergency repairs and thus spend only a fraction of their time on the road. Additionally, the telephone is generally acknowledged as an extremely valuable lifeline and, in some instances, the only mode of contact to the outside world.
Current federal law, which was designed and intended to deal generally with over-the-road long- haul commercial truck drivers and which limits the number of hours such drivers can work, also captures drivers of utility vehicles due to the weight of these vehicles. However, federal regulations allow states to suspend the application of the federal rules if the state determines that an emergency condition exists. New York State already has this kind of limited, well-defined exemption to the hours of service for the restoration or preservation of electric, gas, or steam services during an emergency and it is vital that telephone be included as well.
Telephone service has been proven time and time again to be a valuable tool for the health, safety, and well being of the people effected by natural disasters and unforeseen emergences.
For the above mentioned reasons, The Business Council supports S.5900/A.9661 and respectfully requests its enactment into law.