Additional 90-day waiver for livestock haulers on ELD mandate
March 13, 2018
Truck drivers in the agriculture industry received another 90-day waiver in regards to the controversial Electronic Log Device mandate. Dec. 18, 2017 was D-day for most drivers, but an appeal allowed livestock haulers the first 90- day stay.
On March 13, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that livestock haulers would be allowed another 90 days, starting on March 18, the date the original 90 days expires.
To further facilitate transition to the rule by motor carriers, FMCSA will be providing guidance related to enforcement procedures, according to Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, and Cathy Gautreaux, FMCSA deputy administrator. The guidance includes a 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD requirement for transporters of agricultural commodities, along with formal guidance specifically pertaining to the existing Hours-of-Service exemption for the agricultural industry, and guidance on the "personal conveyance" provision.
FMCSA will also provide guidance on the existing 150 air miles Hours-of-Service exemption in order to provide clarity to law enforcement and the industry.
The 90 additional days allows FMSCA to complete and publish the "guidance Hours of Service," DeLorenzo said.
"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," Gautreaux said.
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Requests for comments to the possible rule change was closed last month. Details can be found at http://www.regulations.gov.
The 150 air-mile rule allows the transportation of agricultural products within a 150 air-mile radius without an ELD. However, the rule so far, is nothing short of confusing, according to drivers. FMCSA offered a webinar to clear up some of the confusion.
DeLorenzo pointed out during a media briefing that the Hours of Service rule that limits driver time on the road is not new and has not been changed with the ELD mandate.
That guidance, summarized below from FMCSA, will be covered in training that will be offered through state partners. For more information, contact Bill Mahorney, Chief, Enforcement Division at (202) 493-0001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Beginning April 1, 2018, FMCSA and its state enforcement partners will begin placing non-ELD compliant drivers out-of-service and the violations will begin to count against the carrier's Safety Measurement System scores. The driver will remain out-of-service for 10 hours in accordance with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance criteria. At that point, to facilitate both compliance and commerce, if the driver is in possession of a paper log, the driver will be allowed to travel to the next scheduled stop. That driver should not be dispatched again without an ELD. If the driver is dispatched again without an ELD, the motor carrier will be subject to further enforcement action.
2. There have been specific concerns regarding the transportation of agricultural commodities, especially the transportation of livestock. While those concerns are related to the Hours-of-Service requirements and not ELDs, FMCSA feels it is important to take additional time for this industry to come into compliance and therefore will be issuing an additional 90-day waiver from the ELD requirements for these groups. The agency will continue its extensive outreach efforts with the agricultural community to provide clarity on all regulatory requirements, including the agricultural exemptions and ELD requirements.
3. In the next 90 days, FMCSA will finalize the guidance relating to the application of the agricultural commodity Hours-of-Service exemption and the use of personal conveyance. These guidance documents will provide clarity to the industry and enforcers of these provisions, and will provide the greatest flexibility possible to the industry.
Ag groups praised the extension but are still calling for producers and drivers to keep calling and emailing state legislators, as it is still just a temporary fix.
"The 90-day waiver issued by FMCSA for all haulers of agricultural commodities was set to expire on March 18. Though we're pleased with the additional 90-day waiver, this does not help alleviate the underlying Hours-of-Services concerns that the livestock industry has brought forth to FMCSA. We look forward to working with FMCSA, congress, and other stakeholder groups in the days ahead to continue pushing for a viable solution to the restrictive Hours of Service rules," said Kelly Fogarty, United States Cattlemen's Association executive vice president.
National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Kevin Kester echoed those concerns.
"This is obviously good news for America's cattle haulers and producers, and it will provide FMCSA more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that simply do not work for those hauling live animals," Kester wrote in a press release.
The National Pork Producers Council used specific details as to why the Hours of Service rule created problems in agriculture. "Because livestock such as pigs are vulnerable to health issues triggered by extreme temperatures, long-established industry standards preclude drivers from stopping while hauling animals, and that could run them afoul of the ELD and Hours of Service rules," NNPC said.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also applauded the extension.
"The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities. If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination. The 90-day extension is critical to give DOT additional time to issue guidance on Hours of Service and other ELD exemptions that are troubling for agriculture haulers," Perdue wrote.
"Current ELD technologies do not recognize the Hours of Service exemptions for agriculture that are in federal law, leaving drivers to do twice the work by requiring use of both the ELD and traditional paper logs. This is a classic example of a one-size-fits-all federal regulation that ignores common sense to the detriment of sectors like agriculture," Perdue continued.
FMCSA announced the temporary 90-day waiver from the ELD rule for agriculture related transportation, followed by a statement touting the success of the ELD transition.
"We continue to see strong compliance rates across the country that improve weekly, but we are mindful of the unique work our agriculture community does and will use the following 90 days to ensure we publish more helpful guidance that all operators will benefit from," said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez.
Since December 2017, road-side compliance with the Hours of Service recordkeeping requirements, including the ELD rule, has been steadily increasing, with roadside compliance reaching a high of 96 percent in the most recent available data. There are over 330 separate self-certified devices listed on the registration list, according to FMCSA.
Beginning April 1, 2018, full enforcement of the ELD rule begins, minus exempted agriculture carriers.
The waiver and guidance will be published in the Federal Register.
For more information on ELDs please visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/eld.❖
— Eatherton is a freelance writer from Beulah, Wyo. When she's not writing, she's riding her horse or playing with her grandson. She can be reached at email@example.com.