Six groups representing various sectors of animal agriculture have petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to grant livestock truckers an extended workday that could last as long as 16 hours.
The petition, submitted today to the Department of Transportation’s FMCSA, requests a five-year exemption from limits on hours of service for truckers and instead would put forth specific limits for livestock-hauling. Haulers would be limited to 15 hours of driving over the course of 16 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
The groups cite concern over limits currently in place: 11 hours of driving, 14 hours on duty that could be used for purposes such as loading and unloading cargo. Those limits, the groups say, “were not drafted with livestock haulers in mind and thus do not accommodate the unique character of their loads and nature of their trips.”
The six signatories include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, and National Aquaculture Association.
“Through this petition, we hope to work with DOT to build on our industry’s strong safety record and provide haulers with some additional relief from overly-restrictive Hours of Service requirements,” NCBA President Kevin Kester said in a statement.
Allison Rivera, NCBA’s executive director of government affairs, described the petition as the “culmination of a lot of different efforts. She tells Agri-Pulse the suggested work and rest duration periods are based on practices used in Australia. There, truckers can work 15 ½ hours over a 17 hour window. The governing body there is currently working on a framework that could add additional flexibilities over a 72-hour period.
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Rivera also defended the livestock industry’s safety record on the roads. The petition cites data showing an annual average of more than 384,000 total crashes involving large trucks; a little over 3,000 of those crashes – 0.79 percent of the total – involved drivers working for motor carriers that identified livestock as a type of cargo they would haul.
“We have a very strong safety record, and this petition speaks to fatigue management and continued safety but also plenty of rest,” she said.
Ag groups have sought relief from DOT’s trucking regulations, particularly after the mandated use of electronic logging devices (ELD) began in December. At the time, DOT offered a 90-day waiver for transporters of ag commodities. In March, a spending deal exempted livestock haulers from the ELD mandate for the remainder of the 2018 fiscal year, which ended September 30. The waiver was extended as part of a continuing resolution that expires in December.
Rivera said the industry will continue to push for a fix through Congress. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., have introduced bills to address the issue.
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