FMCSA issues new ELD waiver for ag haulers, offers additional enforcement insight

Republican congressman says one-year delay should be included in upcoming omnibus legislation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a new waiver from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate for livestock and agriculture haulers, and offered additional enforcement insight as full implementation nears.

A 90-day waiver issued in December was scheduled to expire on March 18. Another 90-day waiver extending into June has been granted, deputy administrator Cathy Gautreaux said during a hastily media call on March 13. The waiver must still be formally published in the Federal Register.

After the announcement, Rep. Roger Marshall of Kansas called the agency’s decision “a step in the right direction,” but also called upon Congress to take action. He said he supports a full-year delay for the agriculture industry to be included in the upcoming omnibus bill to provide additional time for a long-term solution.

Rep. Roger Marshall of Kansas wants a one-year ELD exemption for agricultural haulers.

In the coming months, FMCSA also plans to publish final guidance on the agricultural 150 air-mile, hours-of-service exemption and on personal conveyance.

During the media call, Joe DeLorenzo, director of FMCSA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, said that beginning in April a driver cited for not using an ELD will be placed out of service for 10 hours. After that rest period, the trucker will be allowed to proceed to the final destination, provided they at least have a paper log. However, that driver must use the ELD before heading back out on the road, he said.

In response to a question, DeLorenzo said it will be up to the “discretion” of law enforcement whether to allow truckers to complete a nearby trip if they are using an ELD and found to be over available hours. He noted this reflects the same policy as in the past. 

“Those things will be handled on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Looking beyond the April timeframe, DeLorenzo suggested the agency could further address unassigned drive time, which he stated was one of the most frequently discussed topics.

The mandate requires a device to log all vehicle movements. Unassigned time can happen when a driver forgets to login to an ELD, or when staffers move the vehicle a short distance. He said FMCSA could develop tips on how to “manage it on the back end” and hinted some flexibility may be needed when it does occur.

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