Hours of Service Petition Seeks Flexibility for Livestock Haulers

A petition filed to the Department of Transportation (DOT) by livestock groups is seeking more flexibility to hours of service regulations.

The petition filed by groups representing bee, fish and livestock haulers was submitted on Oct. 15 asking for a five year exemption on particular hours of service requirements. The coalition signing the petition includes the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, and the National Aquaculture Association.

Under current DOT rules the drive time limit is 11 hours and there is a 14 hour on-duty limit. The organizations would like to see drivers have up to 15 hours of drive time and 16 hour on-duty period, following a 10 hour consecutive rest period. To drive at the extended time livestock haulers would be required to complete pre-trip planning and increased fatigue-management training.

“We are concerned that the 11- and 14-hour rules were not drafted with livestock haulers in mind and thus do not accommodate the unique character of their loads and nature of their trips,” the organizations say. The current requirements “place the well-being of livestock at risk during transport and impose significant burdens on livestock haulers, particularly in rural communities across the country.”

The organizations all point to the strong safety record that livestock haulers have. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found in a 2014 analysis that livestock haulers were underrepresented in truck-involved fatal crashes. The petition cites that livestock haulers accounted for 6.6 percent of all commercial drivers from 2013 to 2015, but less than one percent of crashes involving large trucks.

Several leaders for the organizations who took part in the petition voiced their thoughts on hours of service.

“Livestock auction markets are particularly impacted by livestock transportation. Animals are hauled into and out of markets every day. It is one of LMA’s primary goals that such movement be accomplished in a safe manner for livestock and motorists alike. We feel this petition is yet another step toward necessary flexibilities for our haulers while taking proactive measures to preserve safety,” says Tom Frey, Livestock Marketing Association President and owner of the Creston Livestock Auction of Creston, Iowa.

“Livestock haulers are highly-trained professionals who take careful steps to ensure the safety of everyone on the road. Through this petition, we hope to work with DOT to build on our industry’s strong safety record and provide haulers with some additional relief from overly-restrictive Hours of Service requirements,” says Kevin Kester, fifth-generation California rancher and president of NCBA.

 “When livestock and other live animals are transported, it’s important to get them to their destination safely and without delay or disruption. 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,” says Zippy Duvall, AFBF President.

The petition also mentions that Australia has rules focusing on safety instead of prescriptive limits. The organizations would like to see DOT work with members of the industry to implement similar measures.

More information about the hours of service petition can be heard from Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for NCBA, during his AgriTalk interview. The information on the petition starts at approximately 8:55 into the interview: