Farm Bureau, other farm groups petition DOT for hauling flexibility

road work transportationOn Oct. 15 the American Farm Bureau Federation and other organizations representing haulers of livestock, bees and fish submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation requesting flexibility on hours of service requirements.

The petition asks for a five-year exemption for certain HOS requirements for livestock haulers and encourages the department to work with the livestock industry to implement additional fatigue-management practices.

Current rules limit drive time to 11 hours and limit on-duty hours to 14. Petitioning organizations have asked that livestock haulers be granted approval to drive up to 15 hours with a 16-hour on-duty period, following a 10-house consecutive rest period. Haulers wishing to operate under the extended drive time would be required to complete pre-trip planning and increased fatigue-management training.

“When livestock and other live animals are transported, it’s important to get them to their destination safely and without delay or disruption,” explained AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Safety for the driver and others on the road is a priority. That is why we are petitioning DOT to adopt modern fatigue-management practices that provide the same or greater level of safety while avoiding unintended and unnecessary stress on the animals entrusted to our care.”

Data cited in the petition shows that between 2013 and 2015 livestock haulers accounted for 6.6 percent of all U.S. commercial drivers but less than 1 percent of crashes involving large trucks.

In addition to Farm Bureau, the petition was signed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association and National Aquaculture Association.

Andrew Smith, associate director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, a state-level AFBF affiliate, said livestock producers and haulers in the commonwealth want to deliver animals in as quick a trip as possible while ensuring they arrive in good health.

“Much of Virginia’s livestock is exported, whether to a foreign country or to another state,” Smith explained. “The product being transported is a living animal, and its care must be considered in thinking about hours of service for the driver.”

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