Livestock Carriers Get Some Flexibility in Service Rule

U.S. Transportation Dept. Updates Final Hours of Service Rule


By Russell Nemetz, with the Ag Information Network of The West

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its final rule updating the “Hours of Service” rules designed to increase safety on America’s roads. The department updated multiple existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers.

“America’s truckers are doing a heroic job of keeping our supply chains open during this unprecedented time,” says Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (Chow). “These rules will help give them greater flexibility to keep America moving.”

The FMCSA says the changes were made based on thousands of comments they received from Americans across the country. There are four key changes to the existing hours of service rules, all of which do not increase driving time and will continue to prevent operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute break. The agency says the trucking industry is a “key component” of the national economy, employing more than seven million people and moving 70 percent of the nation’s domestic freight.

The new hours of service rule will be implemented 120 days after publication in the federal register.

California’s Trucking Industry Hurting with Regulations

Regulations Put Trucking Industry in Peril

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The trucking industry, moving California agricultural crops from processors to distributors around the country, is facing many uphill challenges.

Tejinder Singh Mehta, also known as TJ, owns InTrade Industries based in Fresno. His company only focuses on a refrigerated fleet handling sensitive perishable commodities, and other refrigerated cargo from California, across the states, and also backhauls.

“The trucking industry is going through a lot of problems. The biggest problem that we are facing now is the extreme shortage of drivers, noted Mehta. “Even if we get drivers, they are not qualified enough to take the challenge, which includes safety regulations and timely deliveries. So that is the biggest issue right now

There is also AB5, which restricts independent contractors in California. “AB5 is affecting the trucking industry in a big way, because earlier small operators, could be hired by midsize fleet companies for outsourcing some freight jobs,” said Mehta. “Because if you have some business that needs to be taken care of, some contracts to be taken care of, you cannot hire independent contractors. They’re so hard to find. In the given situation, we cannot add on to more trucks on our own.”

“Because of the shortage of drivers, if we cannot hire independent contractors, it’s going to affect the industry in a big way,” he noted. “And since California has more trucks, it gets struck by these regulations, which can affect the whole nation in a big way.”

Another significant regulation is the Electronic Logging Device (ELD), which restricts drivers operating more than eight hours.

What happens is that a driver gets close to a destination, and his eight hours restrict any more driving time. The driver cannot continue for even 10 minutes or 15 minutes to go and deliver the load. “This is affecting the efficiency of the job. This is going to affect the actual time for the driver. This impacts the entire trucking industry across the nation, including shippers and receivers,” Mehta said.

Mehta said that the California trucking industry needs a good dialogue between the regulatory authorities, with the truckers at the table, and take on these problems head-on “before they snowball and paralyze the whole industry,” he said.