( MGN )

In a relief to produce haulers and the industry in general, the federal government has said hours-of-service rules don’t kick in until a driver goes 150 miles from the original pickup.

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on June 7 published clarifications to trucking regulations that defined when electronic logging devices (ELDs) should start the clock on hours-of-service deadlines. Since a federal mandate to use the ELDs went into effect in December, questions about the 150-mile rule for ag haulers were rife in the transportation industry. The FMCSA on May 31 cleared the air with two documents clarifying the rules.

Following a 90-day waiver from the electronic logging device mandate issued in March (set to expire June 18), the FMCSA released its final guidance containing definitions and clarifications under the 150 air-mile hours-of-service exemption for agriculture. The guidance is effective for five years.

The documents also state truckers whose clocks run out while waiting to be loaded or unloaded can use “personal conveyance” time (counted as off-duty) while seeking a place to sleep without violating the hours-of-service rules.

“It clarifies quite a bit, which we were glad to see,” said Ken Gilliland, director of international trade and transportation for Western Growers. 

He said the FMCSA confirmed that even if a load is a long-distance shipment of fruits and vegetables, hours-of-service (HOS) rules kick in only after the truck passes a 150-mile air radius. Then the ELD starts counting.

The federal guidance also gives a broad definition of the “source” of agricultural commodities, including fields, coolers and packing sheds, Gilliland said. Processing facilities are not considered a source; packing facilities for whole produce are, he said.

For truckers hauling whole produce, the HOS clock won’t start while they wait to be loaded at a “source” location. The rules don’t give HOS relief to the time truckers spend waiting to unload at destination, however.

Gilliland said empty trucks driving to a loading spot qualify for the 150-mile air-radius exemption.

 

Lingering questions

The FMCSA seems to have addressed industry concerns but some questions remain, said Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association.

“We’re really trying to digest what we’ve received and we’re asking questions,” he said.

For example, he said June 6 that the association wants to make sure that the locations along the border that are the first point of entry for fresh produce from Mexico fall under the definition of “source.” 

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and disseminate information without first clarifying that the way we read it is the intent of FMCSA in their guidance.”

Galeazzi said his association is working with United Fresh Produce Association and other industry groups to contact regulatory officials with questions.

“It does feel like the guidance is in support of a lot of the flexibility needs that we had shared with FMCSA, but again, we just want to make sure that we are interpreting their guidance correctly.”

 

Rate bump

The government’s rule clarifications come at a time of fast-rising rates for fresh produce shippers and predictions of firm rates through the summer shipping season.

Truck rates for produce loads rose more than $1,000, or up as much as 25% compared with week-ago numbers for some destinations May 29 to June 5, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.

USDA reported truck rates for produce shipped from Southern California to Boston rose from a range of $8,100 to $9,100 on May 29 to a range of $9,400 to $12,000 June 5.

Truck rates from Salinas, Calif. to Chicago for strawberries rose from $5,800 to $6,800 May 29 to $7,100 a week later.

In south Texas, the USDA reported loads sent to Atlanta rose from $3,600 to $4,000 on May 29 to $5,000 to $5,400 June 5.
Beyond seasonally increasing produce shipments, industry reports said some independent truckers pulled their rigs from the road for several days in response to the June 5-7 International Roadcheck, which is organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. 

During that 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors throughout North America intensify inspections of commercial motor vehicles and drivers, according to the group.

The date of the Roadcheck is publicized in advance and some companies shut down because the heightened inspections can create delays and long lines for truckers, said Kenny Lund, vice president of operations at Allen Lund Co., La Cañada Flintridge, Calif. 

“If a trucker has a load of strawberries and is held up in line for eight hours, it screws up customer service,” he said. 

Produce and trucking industry leaders say the June timing of Roadcheck is problematic because it comes at a time when there is seasonally high demand for trucks.

“It creates a spike every year they do it,” Lund said.

The effect of Roadcheck on freight rates may be overestimated, said Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for Western States Trucking Association. While some truckers park their trucks, he said many continue to run. 

“Some states really amp (enforcement) up but in California, for instance, it’s no different than any other day,” he said.

He said truck rate increases may more have to do with volumes going up seasonally, in addition to a reflection of the electronic logging device mandate and the capacity crunch.

“ELD is slowing down the supply chain and volumes are going up,” he said.

While the Roadcheck-related spike in rates may ease somewhat by mid-June, industry leaders say seasonally increasing produce volume is likely to put upward pressure on truck rates through July.
 

 
Comments
Submitted by lady doe on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 09:20

PRODUCE SHOULD BE LEFT OUT OF IT ANYWAY. WHAT WE DO IS CARRY FRESH FOOD FOR THE WORLD. AND TO HAVE SOMEBODY SITTING BEHIND A DESK TELING US WHEN TO GO TO BED AND WHEN TO GET UP IS JUST CRAZY. AND THEY CALL IT ALL IN THE NAME OF SAFTEY. ALL THIS JUNK IS GOING TO BE PROVING WRONG. WE NO LONGER HAVE TIME TO LOOK OUT FOR THE CRAZY 4 WHEEL DRIVERS, WE DO OUR BEST TO MISS THEM WHEN THEY PULL OUT AND CUT US OFF ALL DAY LONG. RIDE OUR BUMPERS AND DART FROM BEHIND US. FRESH FOOD ON THE TABLE IS ALL IN THE PASS. WE HAVE TO SIT ON IT AN EXTRA COUPLE DAYS. YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO CLUE WHAT IT TAKES TO DO THIS JOB,JUST A BOUNCE OF PEN PUSHERS FAVORING THE RICH AND THE MEGA COMPANIES.

Submitted by Blanca Estrada on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 12:05

Thats it, well put ! How can they keep telling us when tosleep when to wake,What lanes to be in speed limits for trucks down hill,but local traffic speeds pass, cutting me off . I hit a lady in cali.but dammit she had to get her mom to lunch. 150 miles for everyone that gets me out of LA Calif.traffic jams,so I can go 55 in the freaking dessert cant wait to fly through Az.,NM, 75,Texas 80mph.gosh almost there whoa,,here comes sally in her beammer trying to pass look out for retired folks in the RV, relax people your retired get out of the Hammer lane..fuel is crazy flying j,Loves, TA.Petro, i go to Pride ,66,Conoco,B D's in La. 299.and a free meal. Nice some people still care about the american trucker,I mean National delivery Men and Women,like a paperboy of old time,on the porch Sunday...with a cup of coffee, listening to Brad Anderson tune his top fuel in the garage Shelly watching dad she had a dream ,dam that was better that a rooster in Wyoming well thanks hope all is good for all keep trucking

In reply to by lady doe (not verified)

Submitted by Alex on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:47

I am crying. I am personaly thanks this guy head of fmcsa for doing more than whole agency in 15 years. So many coffee was drank, accidents when driving tired trying to comply with non complying with reality 10-14 HOS regulations. Thank you for trying to bring our job back to common sense.

Submitted by Sandeep on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 11:04

Driving

Submitted by Jose Davila on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 13:34

This Rule needs to apply to ALL TRUCKERS because it’s all the same issues across all industries

Submitted by Autoquickhaulers LLC on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 13:39

This should exemption needs to be applied especially to auto Transportation companies as well, simply because we have the same issues at shipping and receiving sites that eat our hours up due to the delays they cause and not to mention traffic issues across the country..

Submitted by George linkenhoker on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 15:37

Ok I'm an owner operator for 22 years . The road check happens every year . What has happened is over regulation in the whole trucking industry. Maybe you big brokers like Allen lunnd should stand with us . It's like this we been being pushed and used as America cashcow . Now fuel is ridiculously crazy rates should be the cost of a gallon . Now this eld . Like I said I been driving a many moon . I drive safe I avoid weather I avoid rush hour traffic I avoid delays . I basically try to stay out of the way and make a living.
This country needs trucks and we need brokers who work together. What we don't need is to be over regulated.
Solution is to have a criteria like take 0 to 20 then 20 to 100 100 to 300 300 to 500 500 and above . Anyway s then figure out who and how many trucks they have . And if high accidents is happening decrease in size. There is your problem . I really don't believe it's the independent trucker causing the accidents . But yet we are the ones be punished

Submitted by Richard. Higgins on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 15:45

There. Are. Always. Crooks. In every. Field. The. Honest. People always. Get. Screwed.

Submitted by tim on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 17:04

The authors research sucks the law does not apply do anything outside the hundred 50 mile radius IE Long Haul

Submitted by Charles L.Miller on Fri, 06/08/2018 - 17:11

I'm a owner operator with 39 years experience and question, why did you even decide to change the trucking industry with this elog crap. We have been doing just fine with paper logs. Don't blame it on big truck accidents. The majority of us out here are true professionals that drive safely, four wheelers are normally the cause of us crashing, so why not regulate them?

Submitted by Charlie on Sun, 06/10/2018 - 10:56

We haul produce 4 d longs time . D rates r still d same . The brokers r d ones keeping all d money. They should check them frist 2 c what deal is . Everything is going up except d rates . D rates r d same they were 20 years ago n d diesel was 80 cents a gallon. Now it's almost $ 4.00 n d rates d same shit.

Submitted by lady doe on Sun, 06/24/2018 - 09:17

MAKE THE SHIPPERS AND THE RCEIVERS HAVE YOU LOADED IN A HOURS TIME! YOU REGULATED THE TRUCKERS. AND STOP TRAFFIC BACK UP WE CAN'T HELP WHEN THE TRAFFIC STOPS OR SLOWS DOWN. AND MOTHER NATURE, CAN THE GOVERNMENT CONTROL THAT?, I DON,T THINK SO.WHY CLAP US AND NOT THE INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE. BECAUSE ONE CAN'T DO WITHOUT THE OTHER. EVERYBODY WANT GOOD SAFE FRESH FOOD FOR YOUR FAMILY.PARKING EVERYBODY IS STOPPING EARLY TRYING TO GET A NONE PAID SPACE, AND THEN ALL THE PAID ONE IS GONE TO . COME NOW HELP US NOT HURT US. IT'S NOT ABOUT SAFETY IT'S THE MEGA COMPANIES GOT THE GOVERNMENTS EAR. BUT IT'S THE O/O THAT REALLY IS THE BACK BONE OF THE INDUSTRY.