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FAQ: Trucking regulations, electronic logging devices

UPDATE: On March 23, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2018 (omnibus bill). The bill addressed electronic logging devices and prohibits the enforcement of the ELD mandate on haulers transporting livestock and insects through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 (Sept. 30). A waiver for the hauling of all agricultural commodities from ELD requirements, remains in effect until June 18, 2018.

“The prohibition on enforcement will allow time for the agricultural community to continue their work with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure our unique concerns can be addressed and all rules clarified,” said Leah Curtis, OFBF policy counsel.

 

ORIGINAL POST FEBRUARY 2018:

Ohio Farm Bureau’s Leah Curtis, policy counsel and senior director of member engagement, explains what electronic logging device requirements mean for those hauling agriculture products.

I heard there is a crackdown on trucks and trailers hauling livestock. Is this true?
There is no official “crackdown” or change in enforcement in relation to hauling by trucks and trailers of agricultural products. There has been no change in the law regarding Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) requirements or the farm exemptions from certain federal trucking laws. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) did issue a new requirement, often called the “Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate,” that would apply to some farm transportation that is subject to federal trucking regulation. However, that requirement is not in force at this time for most agriculture hauling.

What is the ELD mandate?

The FMCSA issued a rule, which went into effect in December, that requires all commercial drivers subject to the Hours of Service rules to log hours and on-duty time via an electronic logging device.

Does this mean there are new limitations on how far or how much you can drive?

No. The limitations on the hours a driver can be on duty or drive have not changed. Federal law limits the number of hours commercial drivers can be driving and on duty. A driver cannot:

  • Drive more than 11 consecutive hours after 10 hours rest/break
  • Drive past the 14th hour on duty after 10 hours rest/break
  • Drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days if the motor carrier does not operate every day of the week, or
  • Drive after 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days if the motor carrier operates every day of the week.
Do these Hours of Service Requirements apply to farmers?
Yes, unless an exemption applies. These are the exemptions in certain situations for farmers:
  • Farmers who are hauling their own supplies or products only within the state of Ohio are not subject to the federal Hours of Service requirements.
  • Farmers who are transporting agricultural commodities or farm supplies for an agricultural purpose, and remain within a 150 mile radius of their farm, and do so within the state plant and harvest seasons (March 1 – Nov. 30 in Ohio) are not required to comply with Hours of Service requirements due to an exemption.
  • Farmers who drive a “covered farm vehicle” and remain within 150 miles of their farm are not subject to the Hours of Service requirement due to an exemption. A “covered farm vehicle” is a vehicle driven by a farmer hauling the farm’s own products and supplies, not for hire, and designated as such by the state of residence. Currently, Ohio is considering farm licensed trucks to be “covered farm vehicles.” Farm Bureau is attempting to discuss with PUCO how we could broaden this designation.

If a farmer does not fit within these exemptions (likely traveling out of state and farther than the 150 miles), they must comply with the Hours of Service requirements.

Does the ELD requirement apply to farmers?

There are two possible answers here:

  • If a farmer is not subject to the Hours of Service requirements (staying with the state of Ohio only) or if a farmer meets the exemptions from the Hours of Service requirements discussed above, then the ELD requirement does not apply.
  • If you don’t meet an exemption to the Hours of Service requirements, then you must use an ELD to log those hours.  However, on Dec. 18, 2017, the FMCSA issued a 90-day waiver from the ELD mandate that exempts farm transportation of agricultural commodities, livestock and insects until March 18, 2018. This waiver was obtained upon the request of American Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations.
Why was there a waiver from the ELD mandate for agriculture?

FMCSA found that there was not a significant safety risk in issuing a waiver specifically for this type of agricultural transportation. The waiver will allow for FMCSA to consider the unique challenges facing the agricultural industry in complying, and to consider further rulemaking consistent with those concerns. FMCSA has issued waivers from the ELD mandate for other types of drivers (outside of agriculture) as well.

Why was ELD a concern for farmers?

There are a number of reasons farmers are concerned about the ELD mandate:

  • Farmers enjoy certain exemptions from Hours of Service requirements that make it difficult to know when the ELD should be logging and not. Current ELD devices may not be able to differentiate between travel that is subject and not subject to the Hours of Service requirements.
  • Farmers are often not utilizing trucks devoted solely to commercial transportation. Often times, they are trucks and trailers and again, the ELD is unnecessary for much of their travel.
  • Farmers hauling livestock typically have extensive training that combines driver safety and animal welfare. Drivers are trained particularly to address animal welfare and avoid stops that might endanger that welfare.
 

Kelli Milligan Stammen is director of publications for the Ohio Farm Bureau.