Ag truckers granted more time on electronic logging

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truck unloading corn
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation has granted an additional 90-day extension of the agriculture exemption from a federal mandate that requires certain truckers to carry an Electronic Logging Device, or ELD.

The announcement was made March 13 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which announced additional steps to address the unique needs of agriculture industries, and provided further guidance to assist in the eventual implementation of the Congressionally-mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule.

Final guidance

Additionally, during this time period, FMCSA will publish final guidance on both the agricultural 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption and personal conveyance.

Farmers and farm haulers were concerned that the rule could be detrimental to livestock and plant transportation — possibly resulting in the death of farm animals if driving were limited to 11-hour shifts, with 10-hour breaks.

“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, roadside compliance with the hours-of-service record-keeping 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 more than 330 separate self-certified devices listed on the registration list.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the ELDs do not accurately account for the agricultural exemptions currently provided in the law.

Ag exemption

Agriculture haulers operating within 150 air miles of the source of their agriculture products or livestock do not have to comply with DOT’s hours-of-service regulation, which limits driving hours to only 11 hours after being off duty for more than 10 consecutive hours.

The ELD rule went into effect in December 2017, with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) granting the agriculture industry an initial exemption that was set to expire on March 18, 2018.

“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,” Perdue said. “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.”

Beginning April 1, 2018, full enforcement of the ELD rule begins. Carriers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that do not have an ELD when required will be placed out-of-service.

The rules

The driver will remain out-of-service for 10 hours in accordance with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) criteria. At that point, to facilitate compliance, the driver will be allowed to travel to the next scheduled stop and 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.

The U.S. DOT says is committed to dialogue on these issues. The waiver and guidance will be published in the Federal Register. For more information on ELDs, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov/eld.

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