Monthly Archives: March 2018

New Guidelines Issued For Livestock Haulers

Livestock haulers face a unique set of challenges. It is ever-more important that they are able to operate safely on our nation’s roads and highways. Consider the impact that livestock haulers have in our economy. What we put on our table at night in large part relies on the job they do.

This is why some are wondering whether the new guidelines issues by the FMCSA are better for overall trucking safety and getting livestock from one place to the other or not. So, what changes has the FMCSA made?

Post on the agency’s website on the 24th of February, the new guidelines speak specifically to horse haulers. While the FMCSA stated that their new guidelines were meant to clarify confusion, some believe that there is still some level of confusion and concern.

The Details on the Guidance

It is a well-known secret that horse haulers have skated under the law enforcement’s radar when it comes to staying in conformity with rules and regulations regarding how long a truck driver can stay on the road, as well as the licensing requirements a truck driver must adhere to.

The new guidelines issued by the FMCSA are designed to provide exemptions for ELD and CDL truck drivers who transport horses and other animals to shows and events. The guidelines also cover transportation of non-livestock where events and shows are concerned.

What the FMCSA has done is basically allowed truck drivers who are transporting material for a non-business related reason to avoid HOS, ELD and CDL regulations. The exception here is if the truck driver’s home state has specific requirements surrounding the aforementioned. In those cases, the state rules will trump the federal rules.

Specifically, if a truck driver is transporting material to a show or event with a gross weight exceeding 26,001 pounds, the truck driver or fleet in question must comply with licensing, ELD, and other safety requirements the state has imposed for such forms of transportation.

It Started with Horses

All of this stemmed from the horse industry, which sent representatives to the DOT to find out whether they were exempted or included within current regulations surrounding truck drivers. The ELD Mandate itself sparked a big discussion within the horse hauling business about how their fleets and truck drivers would be treated.

In a letter sent to the DOT, the industry voiced frustration with the lack of clarifications surrounding current rules and regulations. They specifically outline the following as problems they have yet to see resolved:

  • Scope
  • Intent
  • Enforcement
  • Ramifications

What many people may not know is that the equine business has a $122 billion impact on the United States economy. That is a huge number, and highlights the potential influence this sector has on government policy.

The concern within the industry is that although the truck drivers in question do not transport these animals as part of a business, they fear they will be targeted under the current enforcement guidelines.

So many trucking companies involved in this sector have skin in the game and are lobbying hard, that the FMCSA has set up a specific website to address their concerns. Yet, not all of the questions have been answered.

Some are wondering if the FMCSA is circumventing safety regulations to satisfy an industry seeking clarification on specific guidelines. It is still too soon to make that distinction, but the fact remains, the guidelines set in place regarding hours of service and the ELD mandate were meant to apply to all operators of large commercial motor vehicles. Will exempting certain operators cause confusion or undue safety concerns? At this point only time will tell.

Removing The Risk From Trucking

As the trucking employee crunch gets worse by the day, many who are considering entering the profession wonder: Is trucking really safe? Look, we aren’t going to mince words or sugarcoat the matter. The fact is, truck drivers and those in passenger cars do get killed in trucking accidents every year. Trucking is a high-risk profession. Yet, if you operate your vehicle in a safe manner and keep essential safety tips in mind, there is no reason why you shouldn’t hit your million-mile mark without a blemish on your record or an injury on your mind.

There are specific steps professional truck drivers can take to ensure they stay safe on the road each and every day. Let’s go through each step, one-by-one.

Signaling By Sight

When you get to an intersection, are you signalling early to ensure the passenger vehicles around you know which way your truck will be turning well in advance? If not you may not be operating safely.

Slow Down

Are you slowing down before a complete stop is necessary? The last thing you want to do is try to come to a complete stop on a dime in an 80,000 pounds Class 8 commercial motor vehicle. Always remember how much time it takes for your vehicle to come to a complete stop. If you see brake lights ahead, this should be a sign to not take your time.

Avoid Lane Changes

Ask any professional truck driver and they will tell you that they do their best to avoid changing lanes. Since a tractor’s blind spots are so large, unnecessary lane changes present an unnecessary risk. Also, make sure you check your mirrors with a cursory glance on a regular basis (perhaps 10 – 15 seconds).

Lights and Flashers

When going through pre- or post-trip inspections, make sure you always check your headlights brake lights, and turn signals. This is the best way to avoid accidents. In situations where you have to drive slower than the posted speed limit, make sure to use your flashers to alert those on the road around you why you are driving slower than normal.

Parking Your Vehicle

When you are getting ready to park your vehicle, make sure you are aware of where your vehicle has room and clearance to park. There are generally specific garages set aside for commercial motor vehicles. Make sure you are never parked on the side of a roadway unless your tractor is disabled. And always do your best to never obstruct a motorist’s view of oncoming traffic, no matter where you are parked. Finally, NEVER park in oncoming traffic. If required, use flares or safety triangles to alert other drivers that your vehicle has been disabled.

Idling Your Vehicle

Always remember that idling your vehicle for more than five minutes represents an unnecessary waste of fuel. Whether you are sleeping. loading, unloading, or otherwise, make sure your vehicle is turned off. If you do need to idle for any reason, make sure your windows are closed. You can even wear a safety mask if necessary.

OTR Operation

If you are a long-haul trucker, there are extra safety rules to keep in mind. Although you can spend many hours on the road, make sure to avoid tailgating. Don’t let frustration creep in and cause a safety incident. If you are experiencing fatigue, make sure to stop, no matter what. And since you will be sitting for long periods of time, do not hesitate to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.

In the end, make sue you are keeping these principles in mind, and you will be sure to operate safely, year-after-year!