Transportation Trucking Federal agencies Legislation Hours of service

Bipartisan House bills seek ELD exemptions for livestock haulers, small carriers

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Livestock truck
Photo: baranozdemir/iStockphoto

Washington – Bipartisan bills introduced in the House on March 12 would exempt certain segments of the commercial motor vehicle industry from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mandate on use of electronic logging devices to record truck driver hours of service.

H.R. 1697, introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), would exempt motor carriers with 10 or fewer CMVs from the mandate. Likewise, H.R. 1698, sponsored by Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT), would exempt agricultural businesses from the rule.

ELDs record vehicle information – including date; time; location; engine hours; vehicle miles; and identification information for the driver, vehicle and motor carrier – at frequent intervals. FMCSA published an ELD final rule in December 2015. The mandate took effect on Dec. 18, 2017, and an enforcement grace period expired on March 31, 2018.

The Continuing Appropriations Act of 2019 currently exempts livestock and insect haulers from ELD compliance until Sept. 30.

Numerous challenges to the rule have surfaced since it was proposed, with many opponents citing concerns over animal or driver welfare.

“This important legislation will eliminate regulations for small trucking companies and will help reduce unnecessary stops and delays [that] threaten the agricultural products they help to transport,” Peterson said in a March 12 press release. “These bills are a win for small businesses in rural America and our farmers.”

In the release, Gianforte refers to the ELD mandate as “more Washington red tape that ties up truckers and puts livestock and … livelihoods at risk.”

 

An FMCSA report issued in January states that, of the nearly 2.8 million driver inspections the agency has completed since April 1, 2018, less than 1 percent resulted in citations for operating without a required ELD or grandfathered automatic on-board recording device.

The release cites several industry groups that praise the proposed legislation, including the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and the Small Business in Transportation Coalition.

“We appreciate the support of lawmakers like Congressmen Peterson and Gianforte who understand the important role of small-business truckers, [who] make up the majority of the trucking industry,” Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said in a March 14 press release.

The House considered similar legislation this past May.

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