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:
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.