Electronic logging device exemptions granted to agricultural haulers are “crossing the line on safety,” says American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear.
“As far as ag is concerned, they do have a powerful voice,” Spear told 600 attendees at a legal seminar panel discussion on Monday. “We’re open to discussing this. But there’s a break point to where we will push back and say, ‘This is really crossing the line on safety.’ ”
“It’s allowing a complete sector of our industry to just go without any rules,” Spear added.
Spear was referring to the recent clarification and guidance on ELD exemptions for agricultural haulers working within a 150-air-mile radius and a bipartisan Senate bill recently introduced that would relax ELD and hours-of-service requirements for livestock haulers.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), states that those requirements would take effect only after a driver travels more than 300 air miles from his or her source.
“ELD did not change hours-of-service regulations,” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Deputy Administrator Cathy Gautreaux said. “It changed how drivers who were subject to paper logs would comply with the mandate. One of the recurring themes is flexibility. But this is such an incredibly diverse industry that trying to find consensus can be a challenge in and of itself.”
Gautreaux added that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has encouraged FMCSA officials to seek industry input on the ELD challenges and other issues.
“She has emboldened us to reach out to the industry and re-create this partnership, and has given me the wherewithal to maintain my relationship with the industry, with ATA, and the state trucking associations, who I think have their fingers on the pulse of the industry,” Gautreaux said. “So the bridge is opening up the door to FMCSA, and we’re listening to you. Talk to us.”