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FMCSA issues 90-day waiver of ELD mandate for livestock haulers

Progressive Cattleman Associate Editor Carrie Veselka Published on 21 November 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) informed industry representatives on Nov. 20 that it would allow a 90-day waiver from the electronic logging devices (ELDs) mandate for all transporters of agricultural commodities.

The 90-day grace period begins Dec. 18, allowing the agency time to review the exemption requests recently filed by several livestock groups, including the Agricultural Retailers Association, the National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), according to a USCA press release.

The FMCSA also plans to open a public comment period regarding the application of the agricultural commodity hours-of-service exemption and to clarify the existing 150 air-miles hours-of-service exemption to enforcement officers and industry.

“We're confident that upon further examination, the administration will find that livestock haulers need additional flexibility in the mandate, specifically in the restrictive hours-of-service rules,” USCA Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Hilker stated in the press release. “USCA will continue to be an active participant in these discussions and asks its members to do the same by submitting comments and keeping pressure on their elected officials to support the industry in securing these needed changes.”

The FMCSA issued additional guidelines about how the ELD transition will unfold:

1. FMCSA will continue its policy of transparency toward the industry when it comes to implementation issues of this rule, passed by Congress five years ago.

2. The ELD rule is going forward as planned on Dec. 18, 2017. FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups and is primarily concerned with helping ease the transition to full implementation of the ELD rule in a manner that does not impede the flow of commerce and maintains and improves safety for operators and the public.

3. To ease the transition to ELDs, FMCSA's partners at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance have previously announced a delay in placing non-ELD compliant vehicles out-of-service until April 1, 2018, which will allow continued time for carriers and law enforcement to adjust to the new technology. In addition, FMCSA is announcing that violations cited during the time period of Dec. 18, 2017, through April 1, 2018, will not count against a carrier’s Safety Measurement System score.

4. FMCSA has heard concerns specific to the transportation of agricultural commodities, especially the transportation of livestock. While those concerns are specifically related to the hours-of-service requirements and not ELD, FMCSA feels it is important to take additional time to evaluate these issues and, therefore, will be issuing a 90-day waiver for these groups (detailed in forthcoming guidance) to allow the agency to fully evaluate recently filed exemption requests.

5. In the coming weeks, FMCSA will publish guidance for comments relating to the application of the agricultural commodity hours-of-service exemption. FMCSA will also provide guidance on the existing 150 air-miles hours-of-service exemption in order to provide clarity to enforcement and industry, and will consider comments received before publishing final guidance.

6. Finally, FMCSA will publish guidance on another hours-of-service issue, known as “personal conveyance,” which has become more relevant due to the upcoming ELD rule enforcement. The goal of these guidance documents is to take input on their application and develop a consistent and uniform application of the provision.

7. Public participation in this guidance is essential to the process, so we ask for continued engagement from all impacted stakeholder groups across industries.

According to an FMCSA press release, “FMCSA and its enforcement partners are fully prepared for the Dec. 18, 2017, implementation. The forthcoming announcement represents the agency’s desire to implement the ELD rule in a manner that improves safety without impeding commerce.”

FMCSA Deputy Administrator Cathy F. Gautreaux said in the press release, “FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups, including agriculture, and will continue to take steps to ease the transition to the full implementation of the ELD rule.”

Producers can visit the FMCSA website for more information on ELDs.  end mark

Carrie Veselka
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