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Concerns arise over livestock haulers' safety exemptions

Commercial truckers in Connecticut, as elsewhere in the U.S., were mandated back in December 2017 to install electronic logging devices on their trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted this move as a way to reduce fatigue-related accidents and save money on paperwork. From that time to Sept. 30, 2018, livestock haulers had a temporary exemption from the ELD mandate.

This is just one of several exemptions that the FMCSA implemented for livestock haulers, largely through the influence of agricultural industry representatives like the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. These representatives have, for example, fought against certain mandatory breaks, pointing out what that can mean with livestock in the back of the truck.

So far, the FMCSA has responded with a relaxing on the interpretation of hours-of-service regulations. In 1995, it set up a 100 air mile radius from every pickup spot that freed livestock haulers from HOS rules. In 2012, that was changed to 150 air miles. In 2017, another change was made; haulers were no longer required to log work hours within the radius, whereas before they had to if they intended to leave the radius.

These changes concern experts because they will let haulers work longer hours and potentially drive while fatigued. Law enforcement and regulatory agencies can no longer track haulers' work hours and rest breaks in the radius.

Though livestock haulers are considered among the safest commercial truck drivers, negligence can creep in with anybody. Someone who is injured in a truck accident may want to seek legal counsel. A lawyer could have a crash investigated and show if and how the trucker violated HOS or other federal regulations. Legal counsel could then negotiate for a settlement with the trucking company's own legal team.

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