The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied a request from several agricultural groups seeking an exemption from certain hours of service provisions. The requested exemption was made on behalf of drivers who transport livestock, insects, and aquatic animals.
The request would have allowed drivers, after 10 consecutive hours off duty, to be on duty for 16 hours after coming on duty, and to drive a total of 15 hours during that 16-hour period.
Groups seeking the waiver included the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association and National Aquaculture Association.
The groups filed the exemption request in February 2019. At the time, regulations allowed livestock haulers to operate within a 150-air-mile radius of the source of the agricultural commodity, and time spent operating within that radius did not count against a driver’s daily and weekly hours limits.
The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law added to that to also include a 150-air-mile radius of the load’s destination. Livestock haulers also remain exempt from the electronic logging device mandate, FMCSA said.
“If the agency were to grant the exemption, drivers transporting agricultural commodities would be allowed six or more hours of driving time within the 150-air-mile exempt zones for the transportation of agricultural commodities, in addition to the 15 hours of driving time outside the zone,” FMCSA said in its denial. “The agency finds that allowing 21 or more hours of driving during a work shift would not likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent the exemption.”