...One of the concerns regarding the adoption of the new ELD system for livestock haulers, as well as any other truckers is cost. ELDs, can cost from $200 to $1,000 plus a $30-$50 monthly fee. They’re designed to record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information. They electronically report that data to federal and state inspectors and help the DOT enforce its Hours of Service regulation.
“Many livestock transportation companies are smaller fleets, operating on thin profit margins. Additional costs to purchase, install and maintain ELDs will add additional costs to the fleet operations,” said Tom Moyer, manager of Livehaul Logistics for PV Transport, an affiliate of Clemens Food Group. “In addition, incorporating ELDs may influence the decision of our older, professional drivers to remain or retire from the transportation industry. Many of these drivers grew up on the family farm, worked on the neighbor’s farm or dad was a truck driver and they rode with him in the summer months, developing their love and sprit of life on the open road. Livestock transportation companies may not be able to replace or fill their trucks’ empty seats if we adopt this new system.”
Still, there are many proponents of the regulation, including the American Trucking Association. According to the association, an electronic solution is long overdue, as it was a proposed rule in 2007 designed to replace cumbersome paper logs and eliminate fraudulent reporting while addressing the safety hazards of drowsy driving. HOS-compliant drivers with nothing to hide stand only to benefit from the ELD mandate, ATA maintains.
However, when it comes to hauling livestock there’s more to consider, said Michael Formica, assistant vice president and legal counsel, domestic policy for the National Pork Producers Council. “The hours of service rules were set up with a one-size-fits-all system by DOT – that’s not how it works,” he explained. “If you have to pull over when your time is up with a truck full of shoes, it’s no big deal – pulling over with a truck full of animals is something different.”
Driving for only 11 hours a day is not going to allow livestock haulers to get their job done, Formica said. “Most transport of cattle is going to be longer than the current hours of service allow. With hogs, the problem will be having to cut back on the number of runs they can get done within their HOS shift.” In addition, there’s a lot of time spent loading and unloading animals, which currently would be deducted from the total 14-hour daily HOS allotment.
NPPC, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Farm Bureau and other stakeholders are all working together to communicate these issues of concern to lawmakers to develop a system that makes sense for the agricultural branch of the trucking industry.
“We have made a lot of progress – we have a pretty good relationship with the Dept. of Transportation,” Formica said. “They [DOT] recognize that there is a problem that needs to be solved now.” Formica said that since the livestock industry is just a small part of the overall trucking industry the needs of livestock haulers weren’t even considered when the HOS rules were first established. “As a regulatory agency, DOT’s focus is highway safety first and foremost. We, as an industry, need to provide them with data that can show them alternatives to the current regulations.”
One suggestion is expanding the HOS drive time to 14 hours, which would give drivers more time to get to their destinations, though it would still not be enough time to handle every scenario on the road...MORE
The fact that haulers are transporting living things changes the whole picture and story. The welfare of the animals and for them to not have to stay in the transport vehicles for any longer than absolutely necessary is at the utmost concern. The time frame being made longer by this stupid new suggestion puts animals in harms way being they will be off feed and water and in cramped conditions.
This is yet another incident of government agencies who don't have a clue about what they are talking about making decisions that they have no business even thinking about.
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