Earlier this year the Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented ELD’s or electronic logging devices to regulate the amount of time truckers are driving and resting. Truckers can drive 11 hours then have to rest for 10.
Truckers in the agriculture industry recognize the need for safety, but worry that taking longer to transport produce, animals, live fish and bees could be a problem.
“You can get a large amount of spoilage really quickly or livestock loss if you can’t get them to their destination,” said Wade Garrett, the director of public policy for the Utah Farm Bureau. “Those are some of the differences that really face agriculture. It isn’t like a load of lumber or a load of steel or even groceries in a refrigerated truck that have been packaged.”
Garrett said truckers and producers are pushing to be completely exempt from ELD’s, but for right now a few smaller exemptions are being proposed. One is 150 air mile exemption that applies to all agriculture products.
“For example, if I put a load of hay on my truck and leave out of my yard and go to Modesto, California without that exemption I can’t make that in one day.” said Rulon Fowers from Hooper, Utah who owns and operates his own semi-truck. “With that exemption, I can get 150 air miles from my farm, which puts me almost to Wells, Nevada and then I start my log. Until that time I’m off duty, I don’t have to do anything. I start my log at 150 air miles which basically is 172 land miles. Then I start my log so I can get clear to Modesto, California in one day which really helps.”
If a trucker has met the amount of hours they are allowed to drive but are within 100 miles of their destination, the trucker can continue to the drop-off point.
Fowers worries that having a one size fits all driving schedule could cause more safety problems. If a trucker does get tired during the 11-hour driving window, they can’t stop and rest for even 30 minutes because the clock is still running.
Legislation for the ELD’s will be voted on as part of the Farm Bill in a few weeks.