By Mary Kennedy
DTN Cash Grains Analyst
The recent one-year extension to the electronic logging device (ELD) waiver for livestock haulers and live insect haulers recently passed by the Senate has caused mixed reactions throughout the trucking industry. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) and the Trucking Alliance (Alliance) have been longtime opponents to any waivers to the mandate.
Earlier in the year, the Advocates said in a press release on their website that, "ELDs are a common sense lifesaving technology and any attempts to bow to special interests and delay full enforcement of the ELD rule would only make our roads more dangerous." Along with the Alliance, Advocates has been a strong, early supporter of requiring ELDs in all trucks and of the ELD rule. "ELDs are a known remedy for the well-documented public safety hazard of driver fatigue," said the Advocates.
Lane Kidd, Managing Director of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, stated in the same press release, "When it comes down to whether this or that segment of the trucking industry should abide by rules that can reduce large truck crashes, the government should have one standard, and that is 'a truck is a truck is a truck.' We shouldn’t allow outliers to skirt public safety regulations. Trucking companies have a moral and ethical responsibility to keep the public's trust, that they are operating as safely as possible, and ELDs are a huge step in achieving that objective."
The Aug. 1 passing of a minibus bill by the Senate included an extension of the waiver to install ELD's that would replace the current deadline date of Sept. 30, 2018, for livestock and insect haulers. Since then, a poll conducted by the Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ) showed that more than half of the poll's respondents (57%) said the waiver should not be extended, while the remaining 43% saw the need for the waiver to be prolonged.
THE REAL PROBLEM FOR INSECT AND LIVESTOCK HAULERS: HOURS OF SERVICE RULE
Hours of service (HOS) requirements have always been in place prior to the ELD. However, they were difficult to enforce because they could, in effect, be adjusted on the paper records. With an ELD, there is no flexibility available for drivers, especially ones whose time runs out with a live load before they reach their destination.
In the Aug. 3 article showing poll results, CCJ said that 18% of poll respondents said regulators should focus on altering hours of service regulations for livestock haulers, rather than granting them another year to run on paper logs.
Under the current HOS rules, livestock haulers are allocated 11 hours of drive time and 14 hours of on-duty time. Once they hit their hours, the ELD will basically force drivers off the road to take their mandatory 10-hour break. The concern of the livestock industry has always been that if the ELD (in essence) clocks a driver out while drivers have a load in transit, it could be detrimental to the safety of the livestock and/or live insects.
Both the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) support the ELD extension for that very reason. In a Facebook post on Aug. 1, after the Senate passed an amendment that would extend the ELD waiver for livestock haulers by one year, the USCA said, "This DOES NOT mean that we have one more year of an exemption, just that the OPPORTUNITY is now available to get an additional year-long exemption. The budget bills still have a few more hurdles yet to face this year - including the President's desk.
"Nevertheless, this is a HUGE step forward and we are very appreciative of the work done by Sen. Fischer's staff and others in securing this delay! Please continue calling your members of Congress to ensure this issue is at the top of their list of priorities, especially as we head into the back half of the year," added USCA.
The USCA also said on Facebook that, "The way things are moving in Congress now, we will not get our HOS solution before our exemption runs out on Sept. 30. This additional one-year delay would give us another shot at our bill -- the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act."
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse set that bill in motion on May 23, 2018, to require the Secretary of Transportation to modify provisions relating to hours of service requirements with respect to transportation of livestock and insects, and for other purposes. In a press release on his website, Sasse noted that the rigidity of current HOS laws "jeopardizes the welfare of hogs, cattle, insects and other livestock."
Here is a link to the full bill:
Truck drivers in all segments have said in various articles that the ELD is not the problem, the current HOS rule is. Many have said being stuck in traffic, slowed by road construction and/or sitting at a final destination, waiting to be unloaded counts against the HOS clock. Valuable time becomes wasted and with the ELD clock running, they cannot make up those hours.
The bottom line in all of this is that there needs to be a solution that protects the safety of not just live animals and insects being transported, but primarily, the safety of all drivers; regardless of what vehicle they are driving on the roads.
Mary Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn
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