A broad coalition of fruit and vegetable industry groups have petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to modify the Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device rules for perishable fruit and vegetable commodities.
The requested modifications to the hours of service and electronic logging device regulations will give increased flexibility to truck drivers for the delivery of perishable commodities, according to a news release.
The groups asked for the following changes to the hours of service rules:
- Add an allowance for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting this rest time against their HOS allotments;
- Exclude loading and unloading times from the 14-hour on-duty HOS calculations; and
- Allow drivers to complete their trip, regardless of HOS requirements, if they come within 150 air miles of their delivery point.
The petition, according to the release, takes into consideration the safety of both the driver and consumer to deliver produce while following U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements.
The groups said current hours of service and ELD regulations contribute to higher volumes of food waste resulting from delays in shipping and delivery.
“Modifying the HOS and ELD regulations for perishable commodities will better align FMCSA with the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Rule, which spells out food safety requirements,” the release said.
Hours of service rules do not allow a driver to turn off the ELD when stopping to rest along a route. The petition, according to the release, asks for driver ability to pause the ELD during rest periods and loading times.
The petition asks the FMCSA to consider excluding loading and unloading times from the 14-hour on-duty HOS calculations. To help address this, the petition asks for adding flexibility to the Split Sleeper Berth Provision that allows for splitting sleeper berth time, adding up to a 10-hour rest period, and allowing for more flexibility to take shorter breaks when drivers need them, according to the release.
“These modifications are necessary for the movement of perishable commodities and will give drivers the flexibility needed to complete deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables that meet USDA regulations and enhance driver and public safety measures,” the groups said in the release.
If the recommended changes aren’t made, the groups asked the FMCSA to delay enforcement of current HOS and ELD rules for trucks hauling perishable fruits and vegetables for two to four years to allow for improvement in the regulations.
The nine-page petition was backed by:
- American Farm Bureau Federation;
- California Citrus Mutual;
- California Farm Bureau Federation;
- California Fresh Fruit Association;
- California Specialty Crops Council;
- Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association;
- Florida Blueberry Growers Association;
- Florida Citrus Mutual;
- Florida Farm Bureau Federation;
- Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association;
- Florida Strawberry Growers Association;
- Florida Tomato Exchange;
- Florida Watermelon Association;
- Georgia Farm Bureau Federation;
- Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association;
- Michigan Farm Bureau;
- Michigan Processing Apple Growers;
- National Watermelon Association;
- Produce Marketing Association;
- Sunshine Sweet Corn Farmers of Florida;
- Texas Farm Bureau;
- Texas International Produce Association;
- United Fresh Produce Association; and
- Western Growers Association.