Truckers carrying fresh produce and other agricultural commodities have been given a 90-day temporary waiver from Electronic Logging Device rule mandate that will be implemented Dec. 18.

In addition to the 90-day waiver, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in late November it will soon issue guidance to existing hours-of-service exemptions for the agricultural industry.

As it is written now, the agricultural exemption allows for the transportation of agricultural commodities within a 150-air mile radius from the source of the commodities without falling under the hours of service rule.

“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,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Cathy Gautreaux said in a news release.

Formal publication of the guidance via the Federal Register is expected by early December, according to the release, and will include a public comment process.

The latest information on the mandate is on the FMCSA website.


The Department of Transportation rule on Electronic Logging Devices requires their use by commercial drivers who fall under hours-of-service rules. Under those regulations, truckers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty, and may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Replacing paper logs, the devices connect to a truck’s engine, tracking hours of service compliance. Even though the hours of service requirement for truckers isn’t changing in December, some industry leaders believe the less flexible, more precise enforcement of hours of service could increase the cost of produce and add a day or more in cross-country shipments.

Not enough

The mandate is regulatory overkill, said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Spencer said the association believes the mandate will increase costs for the vast majority of truck shipments, without any offsetting benefit.

“The 90-day waiver exemption is good as far as it goes, but there should be a total exemption,” Spencer said. “The reality is that there is no way you are gonig to be able to have that mandate without increasing costs for transportation providers and transportation users.”

The association supports legislation to push the mandate back by two years, allowing time for Congress to consider other options, he said. 

The temporary waiver will help some but leaves some questions, said Kenny Lund, vice president of support operations with La Cañada Flintridge, Calif.-based Allen Lund Co.

“If you are a cross-country truck guy and you are hauling produce you are OK, but if you are that same truck and get a backhaul with something else, then you are illegal,” Lund said. “It’s kind of weird basing the regulation on what you are hauling as far as an exemption.”

Lund said the regulation may help farms that do their own deliveries to nearby markets, such as a farm in Salinas to the Los Angeles wholesale market.

Overall, he said the 90-day delay would have been more meaningful and sensible if it specified refrigerated trucks instead.
Lund said regulators need more people with industry experience when they make rules changing the way the trucking industry operates.

Lund said the hours of service regulations are most troubling.

“The ELD is a big thing because it is now going to enforce hours of service that are flawed,” he said.

The way the hours of service regulations are written, truckers will be pressing to cover more ground in a shorter period of time.

“Truckers are regulated based on time and the regulations are making it really hard to have leeway in those hours and so the truckers are going to cover the same amount of miles in less time available to drive,” he said.

Mike Grantham, dispatcher with DT Grantham Trucking, Goldsboro, N.C., said the firm is concerned about the logging device mandate, combined with the hours of service regulation, could put the firm out of business. As a carrier specializing in less-than-truckload volume, he said the time spent loading and unloading subtracts from the allowable time spent transporting product.

For more on this topic, see Packer Insight — Tom Karst on the ELD mandate delay.

Submitted by R Henry on Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:10

This is an ugly development. Fatigue is a leading cause of highway fatalities, and this reprieve is has no basis in safety, only cronyism. When the minivan full of 7 family members traveling to visit Grandma on Christmas gets flattened by a fatigued driver piloting a truck load of onions, who will say the reprieve in enforcement for Ag Products was fair or proper?

Submitted by WG on Thu, 11/30/2017 - 19:46

The family in the mini van needs to be far more concerned about the driver with the electronic logging device in his/her truck that parked at the shipper at 1pm for a 6pm load time and selects "sleeper berth" on their log and 5 hours into that "sleep" time begins the loading process, takes 2 hours to load, then signs paperwork and only sleeps 3 hours of the 10 shown on his ELD. After that he/she takes off down the road tired and is forced to run 11 solid hours with only a 30 minute break in order to meet dead lines whereas an individual with paper logs has flexibility to stop and nap for a period and still make it where they need to be safely and timely. Same rules apply with paper logs however there is flexibility because big brother isn't hooked up to the truck. The biggest problem in this industry is the 14 hour rule. Oh and FYI... More than 82% of the time it's the folks in the mini van that cause the accident, not the commercial driver.

In reply to by R Henry (not verified)

Submitted by Todd Spencer on Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:57

Actually there is no data to suggest fatigue is a leading cause of accidents as you and many others claim. FMCSA data shows fatigue is a factor is 1.8% of crashes. Additionally any credible review of crash data shows that ELDs do not improve highway safety -- in fact many of the big carriers that have long used ELDs crash far more frequently based on miles traveled than other carriers without ELDs.

In reply to by R Henry (not verified)

Submitted by R Henry on Thu, 11/30/2017 - 11:10

This is an ugly development. Fatigue is a leading cause of highway fatalities, and this reprieve is has no basis in safety, only cronyism. When the minivan full of 7 family members traveling to visit Grandma on Christmas gets flattened by a fatigued driver piloting a truck load of onions, who will say the reprieve in enforcement for Ag Products was fair or proper?

Submitted by K Smith on Fri, 12/01/2017 - 00:03

What about when the driver of the truck looses his life due to the family driving to many hours to grandmothers house ----the only reason they did this was motels would be to expensive and the kids travel better at night. He dozes off and causes a accident that will cost the driver of the truck his life trying to avoid the accident. Who will say that fatigue was fair or proper????? If you study the number of fatigue accidents by the motoring public versus the PROFESSIONAL driver off of statistics not provided by the ATA but off of credible sources the picture of the fatigue issue rapidly changes. Also by the way I hope you never have to travel in a area affected by a natural disaster -----or a area in a unseasonal cold snap. There are exemptions in place authorized by the federal government not someone who grows onions. I also have to ask are you a ATA bot??

In reply to by R Henry (not verified)

Submitted by Billy Carter on Mon, 12/04/2017 - 06:51

Nothing more than ATA lobbyists pushing rates up and small trucking companies and O/O out of business.

Submitted by Leah on Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:45

Mr Lund your argument is ridiculous. You are insinuating that loads won't get where they are going in the same amounting time due to an ELD, thereby increasing the cost of said load/product to consumer. That is the same thing as saying we encourage our driver's to lie on their RODS in order to get the load/product delivered in a "shorter" amount of time. You don't like the fact that the ELD wont allow the driver to lie. "The time spent loading & unloading subtracts from the allowable time spent transporting product"....WOW that same time must be honestly accounted for on a paper log! Hhmm isnt that interesting??? People like you have no business dealing with regulatory compliance.

Submitted by Maria Nunez on Thu, 01/03/2019 - 19:50

In my opinion and an owner of 16 Truck. I haul only fresh produce and I see that being in this bussiness for 15 years all we have to adjust is the hours of operation each scenario is different for example the shippers does take 4-6 hours to load we can count that as off duty hours. Not to mention produce are very sensitive items what happens when your off duty and have malfunctioning of on the Reefer and your stuck cannot move untill your 10 hours is due th. We are putting all Americans into risk of having bacteria in their fresh produce. I also agree that we have to have eld to make sure driver are getting enough rest but 10 hours come on who sleeps 10 hours. I have professional driver for over 20 years of experience that are use to sleeping 4 to 5 hours and they make it just fine to their delivery. Imagine telling all those folks they have to waste 10 hours to continue their journey and not only that customers they know about the mandate but still want to push them to get there ontime and don’t even want to raise their prices on the freight so someone explain to me who runs the economy here the truck drivers. So shouldn’t they have the right to sleep just enough hours or atleast get the client to raise the freight so they can have team.