On May 23, a bipartisan group of senators led by Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act (TLASS) that would help reform federal Hours of Service Regulations for truckers hauling livestock. Joining Sasse in support of the bill were Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
Commenting on his bill, Sasse said, “Nebraska’s economy runs on agriculture. Our ranchers and haulers are professionals who make the wellbeing of livestock their top priority and that includes safe transportation. The Department of Transportation’s current regulations endanger livestock during hot summers and cold winters—which Nebraskans know well—causing significant stress on the animals and concern for the drivers. This bipartisan bill is good for our ranchers, good for our haulers, and good for our livestock.”
The measure was applauded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association with President Kevin Kester saying, “The current Hours of Service rules (HOS) for livestock haulers present big challenges for our industry and can often jeopardize the health and wellbeing of livestock. Senator Sasse deserves a lot of credit for his leadership on this issue, and we thank all of the original cosponsors who stepped up to show their support for livestock haulers and cattle producers across this country.”
Livestock haulers are scheduled to have to start using electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track their driving times and distances on Oct. 1, 2018. Under current rules, they would be required to turn on their ELDs after crossing out of the 150-air-mile-radius from their loading point, after which they can only drive for 11 hours before taking a mandatory 10-hour break.
Specific provisions in the TLASS:
• Provides that HOS and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300 air miles from their source. Drive time for HOS purposes does not start until after a 300-air-mile threshold.
• Exempts loading and unloading times from the HOS calculation of driving time.
• Extends the HOS on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time.
• Grants flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against HOS time.
• Allows drivers to complete their trip—regardless of HOS requirements—if they come within 150 air miles of their delivery point.
• After the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is five hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours if a 15-hour drive time).
“I hope Congress will pass this bill as quickly as possible, so we can have this issue resolved before the ELD mandate for livestock haulers goes into effect on Oct.1,” said Kester. — WLJ