by: Kaleb Adams
In early 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation imposed a 90-day delay for agricultural haulers on the national mandate requiring commercial truckers to replace paper logs used to track time spent on the road with electronic logging devices (“ELD”).[i] The mandate initially went into effect in December 2017, but allowed until March 2018, for compliance.[ii] More recently, livestock haulers were granted a year-long extension until September 30, 2019.[iii] Since livestock haulers face different challenges than other transporters, the industry welcomed this delay of implementation with open arms.[iv] The delay will allow regulators time to see how the mandate can be practically applied and identify areas of flexibility within it.[v]
During planting and harvest season, livestock haulers and other vehicles transporting agricultural commodities within 150 air-miles from any obligation are exempt under federal law from compliance with the hours-of-service rule or ELD installation requirements.[vi] Air-miles are nautical measurements of distance that exclude twists or turns.[vii] This exemption allows many livestock haulers to be exempted from the ELD requirements. However, some groups contend that the livestock hauling industry is not equipped or prepared to comply with the mandate.[viii] Allison Cooke, Executive Director of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, stated that “the larger issue at hand is [the] hours of service [rule].”[ix] In a 24-hour period, the rule limits commercial truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time.[x] Commercial truckers must stop driving for 10 hours before driving again.[xi] Many people argue that the limit doesn’t work for the livestock hauling community.[xii] The National Pork Producers Council argued “that because livestock is vulnerable to health issues triggered by extreme temperatures, long-established industry standards preclude drivers from stopping while hauling animals.”[xiii] The mandate “is intended to help create a safe work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.”[xiv]
Despite the 150 air-mile radius mandated by federal law, Kentucky only allows a 100 air-mile radius.[xv] Representative James Tipton and Commissioner Ryan Quarles are working to make Kentucky state law consistent with federal statutes, which will automatically adopt any future increases in the federal exemption.[xvi] Commissioner Quarles praised the newly proposed bill that would allow Kentucky truck drivers to take full advantage of the federal exemption.[xvii] This discrepancy between the 150 air-mile federal exemption and Kentucky’s 100 air-mile radius requires that many livestock haulers be compliant that would otherwise be exempt under the federal rules, leaving them at a disadvantage.[xviii]
Due to the differences the livestock hauling industry faces as opposed to other agricultural haulers, Kentucky’s proposal to model the federal exemption is a good choice for Kentucky’s livestock hauling industry.
[i] Carol Ryan Dumas, DOT Again Delays ELD Mandate For Livestock Haulers, Capital Press (Mar. 16, 2018), http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20180316/dot-again-delays-eld-mandate-for-livestock-haulers
[iii] Wyatt Bechtel, Senate Passes One-Year ELD Extension for Livestock Haulers, Drovers (Aug. 2, 2018 11:54 AM), https://www.drovers.com/article/senate-passes-one-year-eld-extension-livestock-haulers.
[vi] Quarles Applauds Passage of ELD Modernization Bill, Kentucky Department of Agriculture (Mar. 21 2018), http://www.kyagr.com/KY-AgNews/press-releases/2018/Quarles-Applauds-Passage-of-ELD-Modernization-Bill.html
[vii] Christa Krajewski, Hours of Service: The 100/150 Air Mile Exemptions, Foley (last visited April 1, 2018), https://www.foleyservices.com/news/hours-of-service-the-100150-air-mile-exemptions/.
[viii] Dumas, supra note i.
[xiv] Electronic Logging Devices, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (last updated Mar. 25, 2018), https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices.
[xv] Quarles, supra note vi.