Hoeven: FMCSA Final Hours of Service Rule A Good Step, More Flexibility Needed for Agriculture Haulers

Senator Advancing Legislation to Ensure Safe, Humane & Efficient Transportation of Livestock & Agricultural Products, Secured ELD Delay in Recent Years

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, today issued the following statement after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released the final Hours of Service (HOS) rule for all types of commercial drivers. Hoeven has been working with FMCSA to provide regulatory relief under the rule, including for agriculture haulers, and led a bipartisan group in urging the agency to ensure the rule works in the real world. Among other things, the final rule would:

  • Expand the current “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty and increase the distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.
  • Extend drive times for those delayed by adverse weather by up to an additional two hours.
  • Provide flexibility under the mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8 hours of continuous driving. 
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment. 

“We appreciate Secretary Chao’s efforts to provide relief under the HOS rule. This is a step in the right direction, however, more needs to be done for our agricultural haulers, including those transporting livestock,” Hoeven said. “We will continue working to include a provision in the FAST Act reauthorization to help our livestock haulers, similar to the bipartisan legislation we’re advancing, and will continue to include a delay of the ELD rule for livestock haulers in our annual appropriations legislation.”

Today’s action comes in addition to Hoeven’s efforts to address the unique challenges faced by agricultural haulers and ensure the safe, humane and market-efficient transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock. To this end, FMCSA began the process last year to provide additional flexibility for the transportation of agricultural products under the 150 air mile agricultural exemption, which the agency is working to improve at the senator’s request.

Further, Hoeven is advancing his Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act, bipartisan legislation he reintroduced last year with Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). The Hoeven-Bennet bill would establish a working group at the U.S. Department of Transportation comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety representatives and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop guidelines on reforming the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and HOS rules. Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the Transportation Secretary must propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, taking into account the group’s findings and recommendations. 

The legislation would also delay enforcement of the ELD rule until the required reforms are formally proposed by the Transportation Secretary. The bill follows Hoeven’s successful efforts to secure delays of the ELD rule in Fiscal Years (FY) 2018-2020.