For the last few months, livestock owners have been reeling over a government mandate requiring commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with electronic logging devices (ELD) as part of the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” bill enacted by Congress in 2012.
The purpose of an ELD is to log a driver’s hours on the road. It records drive time and alerts the driver when he or she has been on the road the legally allotted 11 hours in a 14-hour stretch. Once a driver has reached the time limit, they are required to take a mandatory 10-hour rest period. Infractions are recorded by the ELD and a driver in violation can be fined.
There are some exemptions to the rule, but if you are a professional rider, compete for prize money, or even give your buddy and her horse a trailer ride and split the gas, you’ll be affected by this mandate.
Not surprisingly, horse folks are furious. Equestrians of all disciplines frequently drive long distances to compete. A primary concern of this new mandate is animal welfare; mandatory 10-hour breaks means a longer trip and added stress on the animals.
The mandate was supposed to go into effect on December 18 but the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) granted a 90-day waiver for the agricultural industry to comply. According to Equiery, “The waiver was granted in response to a petition last September from the American Farm Bureau, the American Horse Council and several other livestock organizations.
“In their request, the groups explained their two biggest concerns about the requirement: livestock haulers’ readiness to comply and the effect on the transported animals’ well-being.”
The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website explains the waiver is part of an effort “to further facilitate transition to the rule by motor carriers” and states “the Agency will be providing guidance related to enforcement procedures during the ELD transition.”
FMCSA Deputy Administrator Cathy F. Gautreaux said, “FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups, including agriculture, and will continue to take steps to ease the transition to the full implementation of the ELD rule.”
The waiver expires on March 18. Now is the time to act. If you have comments or concerns about this mandate, contact your Congressional Representatives and let them know or join the petition on change.org.