On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act into law, which required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create and enforce an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. DOT published a final rule regarding the electronic log books that became effective February 16, 2016, stating that all motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to keep records of duty status (RODS) on paper must install and use an electronic logging device (ELD) no later than December 18, 2017. On Nov. 20, 2017, DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a 90-day waiver of the ELD mandate for agricultural haulers.
Why Are ELDs a Problem For Livestock Haulers?
The ELD enforcement date and existing hours of service (HOS) regulations pose significant consequences for the livestock industry. Current federal law limits on-duty time to 14 hours, with a maximum drive time of 11 consecutive hours. The driver must then rest for 10 consecutive hours before returning to duty. For the great majority of the trips made by our livestock haulers, this is simply not enough drive time to accommodate the realities of hauling live animals across the country. Research also demonstrates that repeated loading and unloading of animals creates stress, harming the livestock as well as endangering the hauler. Unfortunately, the impending December 18, 2017 electronic logging device (ELD) enforcement date and existing hours of service (HOS) rules may force small business owners out of the marketplace while also having the unintended impact of decreasing driver safety, and jeopardizing the wellbeing of hauled animals if they can no longer be hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers/stockmen.
What Solution is NCBA Proposing?
NCBA has asked the following of Congress and the Department of Transportation:
• Delay ELD Enforcement for Livestock Haulers: The current ELD enforcement deadline needs to be delayed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) no less than one year to allow adequate time for industry concerns to be addressed as well as necessary educational training on the actual ELDs and livestock exemptions. (Update: On Nov. 20, 2017, FMCSA announced a 90-day waiver for agricultural haulers that will begin on Dec. 18.)
• Provide Increased Flexibility within HOS: Hours of Service (HOS) rules for livestock haulers must be made more flexible so that drivers can safely do their jobs while preserving the welfare of the animals.
Uncertainty About New FMCSA Guidance
In June 2017, FMSCSA posted a new interpretation regarding HOS rules specific to livestock haulers:
When transporting livestock and using the exemption, the hours of service regulations do not apply to any work that is conducted within a 150 air mile radius (about 172 road miles) of the source of the livestock. That includes loading and waiting time, as well as any driving time that occurs within that radius. Once exiting that radius from the source of the livestock, the hours of service regulations begin to apply. From the point of exiting the 150 air mile radius, the driver can drive an additional 11 hours.
Our concern is that livestock haulers - as well as law enforcement - may not be aware of the existence of this exemption that includes livestock haulers. NCBA is seeking formal guidance on this interpretation and urges a delay from the ELDs until all parties have more certainty.