A coalition of groups tied to fruit and vegetable shippers, producers, and handlers is petitioning the federal government for exemptions from Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rules.
Agricultural haulers and livestock haulers already have a great deal more flexibility than most OTR drivers when it comes to HOS requirements. For example, an ag hauler’s 14-hour on-duty clock and 11-hour drive clock don’t start ticking until they are 150 air-miles away from their origin point.
A letter signed by 24 groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Produce Marketing Association, the United Fresh Produce Association, and the Vegetable Growers Association was sent to FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez. In it, the groups claim that exemptions to HOS and ELD regulations need to be made in order to compensate for the “unique challenges” that the agricultural industry faces.
Here are some of the proposed changes which would impact only drivers hauling agricultural commodities like perishable fruits and vegetables.
- Let drivers “pause” their HOS clock for as long as they want, as often as they want, during non-driving periods.
- Exclude loading and unloading times from 14-hor HOS calculations entirely.
- Allow split sleeper time of 5/5, 6/4, and 7/3 blocks in addition to the current 8/2 split which is required in order to count for 10-hours of off-duty time.
- Add a 150 air-mile buffer at the end of trips as well. This would allow drivers to complete their trip if they come within 150 air-miles of their destination without needing to stay within their allowable hours.
The groups called the requested exemptions “urgent issue[s] of utmost importance,” but acknowledged that “some modification requests are more feasible for immediate implementation than others.”
In the conclusion of the letter, the groups also suggest not bothering enforcing HOS rules for ag haulers at all. “If FMCSA cannot modify the HOS and ELD rules as requested, we urge a delay of enforcement of the HOS and ELD rules for two to four years,” the groups wrote.
You can read the full petition here.