FMCSA considering petition for HOS exemption for livestock, insect, aquatic animal haulers
Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comment on a petition that aims to amend hours-of-service requirements for haulers of livestock, insects and aquatic animals, allowing for a 16-hour on-duty period after 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time, the agency announced in the Feb. 6 Federal Register.
FMCSA HOS regulations state that commercial motor vehicle drivers can spend 11 hours behind the wheel during a 14-hour period, and must take a break after eight hours of driving. The petition – filed jointly by six organizations, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association – seeks to permit up to 15 hours of driving during a 16-hour on-duty period. The petitioners are requesting a five-year exemption, citing concerns over animal and driver welfare when trips cannot be completed under current rules.
“We are concerned that the 11- and 14-hour rules were not drafted with livestock haulers in mind and thus do not accommodate the unique character of their loads and nature of their trips,” states the petition, which was sent to FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez on Oct. 15. “In certain circumstances, livestock haulers are required to carry live animals over significant distances. … Therefore, the maximum driving and on-duty limits of the HOS rules as applied to livestock haulers’ operations may place the well-being of livestock at risk during transport and impose significant burdens on livestock haulers, particularly in rural communities across the country.”
Zippy Duvall, president of the petitioning organization American Farm Bureau Federation, adds in a press release, “When livestock and other live animals are transported, it’s important to get them to their destination safely and without delay or disruption. Safety for the driver and others on the road is a priority.”
Comments on the petition are due by March 8.