Big changes:New trucking regulations will dramatically impact livestock industry
The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule will go into effect on Dec. 18, 2017 and will be required in all newer commercial vehicles.
According to Huckfeldt Trucking Company Manager Dennis Huckfeldt, the rule will “change the way we transport livestock.”
“In 2017, an electronic logging device will be put into all trucks that are year 2000 or newer,” says Huckfeldt.
Currently, drivers are required to keep written records of their duty status. They will be required to transfer to the use of the ELD.
The ELD logs in when the truck is started and begins the hours of service clock, regardless of whether the driver is at the pickup location.
The logging device will have a major impact on agriculture, says Huckfeldt, commenting, “I think it’ll definitely change the way we do business.”
The device is predicted to increase the costs of transporting livestock by limiting the time that truckers are able to drive in a day.
He comments, “If we run over our hours, we have to shut down, and if we’re not to our destination, what will happen to our stock on board?”
To get stock delivered to their destination, trucking companies may be forced to utilize team drivers or to connect with other trucking lines.
“If we know that we can’t be to a destination on time, then it may end up that the cost will increase due to potentially putting team drivers in or connecting with another truck line to get the stock delivered,” says Huckfeldt.
Another proposed regulation that would impact agricultural trucking is a proposed speed limiting regulation.
“The proposed speed limiting regulation would set a nationwide speed limit for commercial vehicles,” says Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) Field Services and Federal Lands Associate Holly Kennedy.
The proposed speed limit would be enforced through the use of a speed limiting device that will cap the revolutions per minute (RPMs) that a commercial vehicle is able to obtain.
The speed would be a standard speed or a “one size fits all approach” for all highways, explains Kennedy.
Huckfeldt comments that while there are cases where going the speed limit is not advisable in a commercial vehicle, it also would be a challenge in good conditions to get to destinations in a timely manner.
“If they run some of the speed limits in a truck, that’s too fast. Although in the same sense, on a nice open highway, drivers want to make as much time as they possibly can,” says Huckfeldt.
One of the concerns that the WyFB is voicing with the proposed speed limiting rule is governmental overreach on states’ rights.
“In 1995, the National Maximum Speed limit was repealed, and that authority was given back to the individual states to decide what speed was best for their highways,” says Kennedy.
“We feel that each state does and should have the right to set the speed limit that fits their highway conditions and situations,” she continues.
She also notes that limiting commercial vehicle speed will require an increased number of commercial vehicles on the road to maintain the same level of productivity.
“One of our primary concerns with that is that’s going to chew up our highways even more than they already are,” explains Kennedy. “That cost is going to get passed down to every citizen in Wyoming to maintain those roads that are receiving more traffic.”
“We’re opposed to the speed limiting rule primarily for safety concerns,” says Kennedy.
High traffic areas that are prone to clogging are a major concern with the proposed rule.
“Highway 59 is a classic example of a high traffic area. They’ve had to put in passing lanes to increase safety, so we have less incidences of vehicles trying to pass commercial vehicles while facing oncoming traffic,” says Kennedy.
“We can only see that this will increase those incidences because we’ll have more vehicles traveling slower than the passenger vehicles. That creates a safety problem for both the passenger vehicles and the commercial vehicles,” she continues.
As the speed limiter regulates the RPMs that a vehicle can achieve and therefore limits the ability to accelerate quickly, Kennedy notes that it could increase accidents because commercial vehicles are not able to avoid collisions.
Limiting a commercial vehicle’s ability to accelerate quickly could also cause problems with merging with traffic.
“The onramps in Cheyenne are an example of where we need to be able to accelerate to safely merge with traffic when we’re coming around those tight corners,” continues Kennedy.
“We can only see an increase in incidences of collisions with both of those situations,” she concludes.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.