Editor’s Note: Since this article was published there have been further updates to report. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued regulatory guidance on June 7, 2018 to clarify the applicability of the “Agricultural Commodity” exception with the “Hours of Service of Drivers.” To read more on the updated guidance language, please click here.
Western Growers has analyzed how the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will affect members.
Below is our analysis of the FMCSA temporary exemptions and waivers and the permanent exemptions when transporting agricultural commodities in interstate commerce:
There is currently a federal waiver to the requirement to use electronic logging devices while transporting agricultural commodities in interstate commerce within 150 air-miles from the source of the commodity. (FMCSA Exemptions Fact Sheet)
What this means: A limited 90 day waiver (Effective March 18, 2018, expiring June 18, 2018) granted by FMCSA from the Federal hours-of-service regulations pertaining to electronic logging devices (ELDs) for the transportation of agricultural commodities moving in interstate commerce.
- Motor carriers transporting agricultural commodities in interstate commerce under the provisions of 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1), are exempt from the ELD requirements in 49 CFR 395.8(a) during the period of this waiver, regardless of the distance traveled. Monitoring hours of service by a paper log is still required.
- Drivers operating under this waiver must carry a copy of the Federal Exemption.
- Carriers operating under this waiver must comply with all other applicable requirements of the FMCSA, including the preparation of records of duty status, once beyond the 150-air mile radius, which are currently considered to be subject to the hours-of-service rules.
- Separately, as FMCSA has already exempted the interstate transportation of agricultural commodities within a 150-air mile radius of the source, hours-of-service regulations do not apply until the driver exceeds the 150-air mile radius, which at this point means the driver must start recording hours-of-service. Since the 90- day waiver exempts the carrier transporting agricultural commodities, the driver may record his or her hours-of-service by using the traditional paper log recording system.
Permanent 150-air mile radius exemption – not subject to Hours of Service
What this means: When transporting agricultural commodities within a 150-air mile radius from the source, the interstate transportation is not subject to hours-of-service regulations under the FMCSA. Since hours-of-service regulations to not apply, the carrier is not required to maintain a record of on-duty status. “Source” is currently understood to mean first point of processing or preparing for market.
The recording of on-duty status will apply whenever the driver exceeds the 150-air mile radius. At this point the carrier may record his or her hours of service using paper logs while the 90 day waiver, as described above, is in force. Upon entering the original 150 air-mile radius on a return trip (unladen) back to the “source” the driver is no longer subject to Hours of Service regulations.