DOT eases rules for livestock haulers

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Responding to concerns over animal welfare, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) this week granted livestock truckers a limited 90-day waiver from a rest-break provision included in new hours-of-service rules.

Transportation The new rules, which took effect on July 1, require drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of a shift, while also reducing the maximum average workweek for drivers from 82 hours to 70 hours.

FMCSA announced the new rules, which intend to improve safety, back in December 2011, allowing trucking companies and drivers time to adjust their schedules. According to the agency, only the most extreme schedules will be impacted, and more than 85 percent of the truck driving workforce will see no changes. FMCSA estimates the new regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

Livestock organizations however, expressed concerns over the 30-minute break requirement, believing it could increase stress on animals, especially during the hot summer months.

In its July 8 notice announcing the exemption, FMCSA notes that long-range weather forecasts call for hotter-than-average weather for much of the nation during July, August and September 2013. “The industry requested relief, and the Agency has determined that it is appropriate to grant a limited 90-day waiver for this period to ensure the well-being of the Nation's livestock during interstate transportation, they say. “The Agency has determined that the waiver, based on the terms and conditions imposed, would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.”

Livestock organizations are pleased with the temporary exemption, and likely will push to make it permanent. "This decision will help ensure the continued humane treatment and welfare of livestock while traveling on the nation's highways," says National Pork Producers Council president Randy Spronk. "By granting the 90-day waiver, the FMCSA will ensure that during hot summer months livestock won't be sitting in the sun for extended periods, with drivers unable to care for them because they're required to take a 30-minute break."

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Matthew Rohlik    
MN  |  July, 09, 2013 at 01:55 PM

This is good to hear! Someone is thinking, at least for a little.......

July, 10, 2013 at 10:29 AM

How ridiculous! These poor animals get transported during the extreme heat and extreme cold. Why not stop hauling during the really hot months and really cold months? For God's sakes, quit thinking of yourselves! In the extreme cold temperatures, the skin of pigs literally freeze to the walls of the trailer! This is so disgusting!

Oregon  |  July, 12, 2013 at 01:02 PM

Laureen, please. What you write is simply untrue.

August, 17, 2013 at 07:21 PM

Laureen---hog haulers I know board their trailers up and bed them in straw when it's cold---and have lots of vents and keep moving when it's hot. But--perhaps should just haul when it's 62 to 71 degrees, period? This might entail a few folks such as yourself to got the odd few mos w/o eating. You in?

your stupid    
December, 27, 2013 at 02:40 PM

Really? Most Commerical haulers do not and lets face it they wamt to keep the money rolling in no matter what dies.

ok  |  December, 28, 2013 at 06:17 PM

That is a very fitting headline for you you're stupid every hauler i work with and know is very careful of the care they take for the livestock they are hauling because that is the only way they make money is to keep them alive and healthy