And the beat goes on with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) mandate to require electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial motor vehicles.

The December 18, 2017, deadline was extended to March 18, 2018, for drivers hauling livestock and other agricultural commodities such as hay. In the meantime, the DOT is addressing concerns raised by a number of agricultural entities regarding the shift from paper logs.

To be sure, it’s not the ELDs that are at the heart of the debate but rather the hours of service time before a required 10-hour break from driving.

In the new mandate, truckers must stop after 11 hours of driving (within 24 hours), regardless of how close they are to their destination. For livestock haulers, the ramifications are obvious. Either the livestock would have to be unloaded and cared for during the down time or another driver would need to hired, which adds to the freight charge.

For hay haulers, the same time limit problem exists where product is being hauled long distances, except the cargo wouldn’t need to be unloaded.

It’s notable that the current ELD extension for agriculture haulers only applies to using an ELD; it does not exempt haulers from the hours-of-service requirements.

The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does offer some agricultural exemptions to the rules. The hours-of-service and ELD regulations do not apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating completely within the 150 air-mile radius by “for hire” or private carriers. Therefore, work and driving hours are not limited and the driver is also not required to use an ELD.

To view a fact sheet of current hours-of-service agricultural exemptions, click here.