Truckers who transport animals, live fish and bees have until March to convince lawmakers that new regulations would negatively impact animal welfare. Electronic logging devices or ELD’s now regulate the amount of hours truckers are on the road.
Safety was the U.S. Department of Transportation’s goal in passing the law requiring truckers to use ELD’s. Truckers can drive 11 hours, but have to then rest for 10 consecutive hours.
“Clearly, livestock is different than moving plywood,” said Sterling Brown, the vice president of public policy for the Utah Farm Bureau. “The owners and operators of cattle and other animals over years, over decades, over generations have tried to make sure that the distance between load and drop-off is such where we’re not straining or causing un-do health practices to those animals.”
Rulon Fowers is from Hooper, Utah and owns and operates his own semi-truck. He said truckers usually don’t sleep for 10 straight hours.
“ELD would be fine if they would change the hours of service and give us more flexibility, but there is not flexibility in the current hours of service,” Fowers said. “Years ago we used to be able to drive for five hours, sleep for four and you could keep doing that. It was wonderful! After four hours I’m ready to get in the seat again and I can get some work done.”
Commercial trucking companies already use systems to regulate their drivers, according to Fowers. He said most drivers who transport live animals invest in their own equipment which sets them apart from commercial companies.
“In my case one truck and trailer is well over $100,000 and that’s used equipment,” Fowers said. “Why in the world would I drive sleepy when it’s my equipment that I paid for, my insurance that would be canceled if I caused a wreck? So why would I want to drive sleepy? When it reality you’ve got someone who is just a driver for a company, has nothing invested in that, he doesn’t care so he needs to be regulated. In my opinion, there needs to be a set of rules for an owner-operator who actually owns his equipment versus someone who drives somebody else’s equipment.”
Fowers said some people have considered driving in teams of two, but there are only one or two people he would trust to drive while he sleeps in the back; and there is already a shortage of drivers in the industry.