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Hours-of-service rules get overhauled

Progressive Cattleman Editor Carrie Veselka Published on 24 May 2019

Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) and Jon Tester (D-Montana), along with 17 other co-sponsors from both parties, introduced the “Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act,” a bipartisan approach to giving livestock haulers some relief from the hours-of-service rules and the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate that poses a problem for transporting livestock effectively and humanely.

Hours-of-service rules currently dictate that truck drivers are required to turn on their ELDs after surpassing the 150 air-mile radius from their loading point. After activating their ELDs, truckers would only be able to drive for 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour break, ideal for truckers hauling merchandise, but impractical for livestock haulers.

The changes proposed in the bill:

  • Provide that hours-of-service and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300 air miles from their source (Drive time for hours-of-service purposes does not start until after the 300 air-mile threshold.)

  • Exempt loading and unloading times from the hours-of-service calculation of driving time

  • Extend the hours-of-service on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time

  • Grant flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against hours-of-service time

  • Allow drivers to complete their trip – regardless of hours-of-service requirements – if they come within 150 air miles of their delivery point

  • Ensure that, after the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is five hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours if a 15-hour drive time)

The House later received a companion bill, titled the “Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act.” The bill, introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) and Rep. Greg Pence (R-Indiana), would require the secretary of transportation to establish a working group made up of governors, representatives of state and local agricultural and highway safety agencies, other relevant state and local officials, and several experienced members of the agriculture industry.

This group would then identify the “initiatives and regulatory chances that maintain and protect the safety of highways and allow for the safe, efficient and productive marketplace transport of livestock, insects and agricultural commodities,” and deliver a report back to the secretary.

Currently, the implementation of ELDs for livestock haulers is delayed until Sept. 30.  end mark

Carrie Veselka
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