The Trucking Alliance and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety have filed a letter with all 535 members of Congress asking them to oppose the overhaul of hours of service regulations for livestock haulers recently proposed in the Senate.
Filed last month by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), the bill would institute somewhat of a complicated overhaul of hours of service regulations. Chiefly, it would expand the available on-duty and drive-time hours for truckers hauling livestock and insects, potentially allowing them to drive for up to 18 hours in a 24-hour period. Read more details on the proposed changes from Overdrive’s coverage at this link.
In a joint letter issued Monday, the Trucking Alliance (made up of some of the largest carriers in the country, including J.B. Hunt, Schneider, U.S. Xpress, Swift, Maverick, and others) and Advocates said they oppose the move. They argue that the hours changes for livestock haulers would undercut highway safety. They also said the bill would likely move livestock and insect haulers farther from compliance with the electronic logging device mandate. Such haulers have received a waiver from ELD compliance through September 2018.
“We acknowledge that livestock haulers are unique in that they are delivering live cargo. However, they are not the only carriers who haul time sensitive commodities,” the groups write in their letter. “Instead of exempting livestock haulers from this safety requirement, they should be encouraged to develop an answer to their logistics management issue. Regardless of commodities hauled we should never sacrifice the safety of the general public sharing our highways or the truck drivers delivering them for the purpose of getting any product to market.”
Sasse, chief sponsor of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act, said current hours regs “endanger livestock during hot summers and cold winters…causing significant stress on the animals and concern for the drivers. The bipartisan bill is good for our ranchers, good for our haulers and good for our livestock.”
Congress and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have acknowledged the concerns of hours of service regs when hauling livestock, ultimately providing livestockers an extra 10 months to adopt an ELD. However, the agency nor Congress have acted yet to alter the underlying hours of service regulations with which livestock haulers must comply.
The Alliance and Advocates argue that, should Congress adopt Sasse’s proposed rewrite of hours regs for livestock carriers, the “changes would compel many similarly situated local and regional haulers to request comparable exemptions,” the Alliance and Advocates write in their June 11 letter. “This would have the effect of nullifying to a very significant degree the HOS limits the FMCSA has established for much of the industry.”