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Legal Blog

FMCSA Clarifies Hours-of-Operation Regulations for Agricultural Truckers

Agricultural Machines Working in a Field

When compared to other American industries, agriculture has the highest death rate according to data compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In 2011, the death rate was almost 25 per 100,000 workers, which was seven times higher than the average worker. Moreover, safety rules such as hours of operation regulations that apply to commercial vehicle operators don’t always apply to agricultural trucks.

If you or a loved one suffer an injury because of someone else, do not hesitate to contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for help. Our Houston truck accident lawyers can assist you with your claim for compensation. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at (281) 283-8500 today.

Most Agricultural Trucks Are Exempt From Using Electronic Logging Devices

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration introduced several regulations to improve the safety and efficiency of America’s trucking industry. Just recently, the administration began mandating that commercial vehicles used in interstate commerce install Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs, to track position, acceleration, braking, mileage, and operating hours.

The ELD requirement is part of Federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for truckers, which are meant to save both lives and money. The use of ELD’s is expected to save trucking companies $1.6 billion per year in fuel and administrative costs. These savings will easily offset the installation fees, which range from $200 to $2,000, and monthly servicing fees that can reach $60 per month. According to a 2013 FMCSA study, trucks equipped with ELD have an 11.7 percent lower crash rate and could save an estimated 26 lives per year.

The Department of Transportation has issued a series of waivers that exempt agricultural carriers from compliance with HOS rules. This means that the use of ELDs is not mandatory for transporters of agricultural commodities as defined in federal regulations. The waiver for compliance with the ELD requirement applies to most livestock, non-processed food, and insect transporters, so long as they operate on short hauls.

When Do Agricultural Trucks Need to Comply with HOS Rules?

After hearing the voices of the public and the lobbyists of the trucking and agricultural industries, the FMCSA determined that agricultural trucks that operate within a 150-mile radius of their base are exempt from HOS regulations. Once the truck leaves the 150-mile radius, the exemption ends, but it resumes once the trucks return into the radius.

The origin of the trip is considered the first point where the truck is loaded with agricultural commodities. Subsequent stops to load or offloads cargo do not “reset” the trip unless all commodities are offloaded, at which point a new load may be put on the truck for a separate HOS-exempt trip within a 150-mile radius measured from the new loading point. HOS rules apply again at any point “non-exempt freight or products are added to the load.”

An exception to the 150-mile rule involves personal conveyance, which means any mileage accrued by the commercial vehicle for the driver’s personal use. Examples of personal conveyance include when a driver is taking the truck to their home after work, or “time spent traveling to a nearby, reasonable, safe location to obtain required rest after loading or unloading.” Personal conveyance mileage is not added to the 150-mile radius for purposes of calculating the HOS rules exemption.

Call a Houston Truck Accident Attorney

Our Houston truck accident attorneys at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. are dedicated to getting the victims of agricultural trucking accidents the compensation they deserve. Whether you work on a farm, or you or a family member has been hit by a truck on a public roadway, we can help you obtain an optimal case resolution. For more information on how we can assist you, call (281) 283-8500 today for a free consultation about your case.