The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) this week granted drivers who haul livestock an additional 90-day waiver from a regulation that could have negative effects on animal well-being, a move applauded by the National Pork Producers Council.
A DOT rule issued in 2015 required truckers of commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce to replace their paper driving logs with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by Dec. 18, 2017. In September 2017, NPPC petitioned the agency for a waiver and exemption from the requirement, and DOT provided an initial 90-day waiver – until March 18 – from the mandate for livestock haulers. A final decision on NPPC’s request for an exemption still is pending.
ELDs, which can cost from $200 to $1,000 plus a $30-$50 monthly fee, record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information. They electronically report that data to federal and state inspectors and supposedly help the DOT enforce its Hours of Service regulation. That rule limits commercial truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period. Once drivers reach that limit, they must pull over and wait 10 hours before driving again.
But 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, NPPC argued in asking DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Raymond Martinez for the waivers.
“The U.S. pork industry is grateful to DOT Secretary [Elaine] Chao and FMCSA Administrator Martinez for this additional waiver from the ELD rule, which poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This will provide the department and Congress additional time to find a solution that meets the unique needs of livestock haulers.
“Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling regardless of any regulation.”
DOT did exempt from the Hours of Service regulations and from any distance-logging requirements truckers hauling livestock within a 150-air-mile radius of the location at which animals were loaded, but the exemption is not uniformly recognized and its implementation varies by state.
Original release March 13, NPPC
Livestock Haulers Get Another Waiver From ELD Rule