U.S. pork producers are backing the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposal to increase flexibility for truckers, including livestock haulers. The Hours of Service of Drivers proposal, issued in August, revised rules around the amount of time truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives.
“While not perfect, FMCSA’s proposed rule is part of a series of welcome steps the agency has taken to adjust policies necessary to help address the challenges faced by livestock haulers,” the National Pork Producers Council said this week in its comments to the FMSCA.
FMCSA’s proposal addresses the challenge of adverse weather by expanding not just the driving time, but also the overall on-duty time for drivers to finish their delivery.
The proposed rule also allows truckers to split up their 10-hour mandatory rest period into two periods (one being at least seven hours long) and creates an option for drivers to take an extended break between 30 minutes and three hours, which pauses their on-duty clock. This will allow drivers the option of resting when tired, while providing greater flexibility for completing deliveries and maintaining high animal welfare standards.
In its comments, NPPC urged the FMCSA to allow other time splits for livestock haulers and eliminate the distinction between on-duty and driving time, among other suggestions.
“Day to day, in ideal conditions, most haulers carrying hogs can comply with current HOS rules. However, many haulers are often placed at risk of violating HOS rules due to factors outside their control. These factors can include such unpredictable events as weather and traffic delays or backups and work stoppages at processing plants that prevent timely deliveries from being made. Combined with the incompatibility of the ELD mandate with livestock hauling, current HOS rules have caused significant disruption for livestock haulers, increasing already severe driver shortages, and potentially endangering the health and welfare of the millions of animals transported by livestock carriers daily.”