At the end of May, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration clarified issues surrounding the electronic logging device mandate as it applies to agricultural transportation. Trucks carrying produce and livestock have been running into problems and inconsistencies with the ELD mandate since it went into effect last year.

The 150-mile Rule for Agricultural Transportation

One of the major sticking points with truckers has been what qualifies as a source for agricultural goods. Many took it to mean farms, but the federal guidelines include fields, packing sheds, and coolers. Along with this, there was an allowance for a 150-mile air radius in which truckers do not have to use ELDs. The initial drafting of the ELD mandate stated agricultural transportation within the 150-mile radius was exempt from the ruling, but not every source has its own fleet. Trucks required to go to the source to pick up agricultural shipments may use up their “hours of service” before they even reach the pickup point. The FMSCA clarified their position, stating that unladen trucks traveling to a pickup point for agricultural transportation do not have to use ELDs.

Multiple Sources for Agricultural Transportation

With the basics of ELD exemptions for agricultural transportation covered, the FMCSA also clarified how the mandate applies to shipments from multiple sources. Initially, there was a lot of confusion over trucks picking up shipments from multiple sources. After all, if drivers are only picking up shipments from sources, how is the 150-mile radius measured? Counting pick up point to pick up point as one trip wouldn’t work, and only complicated things further. However, including every possible pick up point as a “reset” of the radius could put drivers in danger of fatigue. On one end of the scale, people were interpreting the ELD exemption to strain drivers, and on the other, the interpretation meant trucks had to operate at well below their capacity. For the sake of clarification, one trip ends when all agricultural commodities have been delivered, or the driver accepts non-exempt commodities to the load. The 150-mile radius resets at the end of one trip.

As time goes on, more issues with the ELD mandate will be ironed out, and more exemptions will be made. Express Freight Finance will keep you up to date as there are new developments.

The full text containing the guidelines for agricultural transportation can be found here.