The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has approved another 90-day waiver to the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate for agriculture-related transportation. The FMCSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, announced the new waiver on Tuesday (March 13).
Over the next three months, the agency expects to release final guidance on the hours-of-service exemption for agricultural transportation within a 150-mile radius and personal conveyance, which relates to driving while off duty.
“We continue to see strong compliance rates across the country that improve weekly, but we are mindful of the unique work our agriculture community does and will use the following 90 days to ensure we publish more helpful guidance that all operators will benefit from,” FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez said.
On Dec. 18, the ELD mandate went into effect requiring drivers to use an ELD to track their hours of service. On April 1, roadside inspectors will start to place trucks out of service for not complying with the mandate. The driver will remain out of service for 10 hours, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. After that period, the driver can drive to the next planned stop and should not be dispatched again without an ELD. If the driver continues to drive without an ELD, the carrier will face more enforcement action.
According to the most recent FMCSA data, roadside compliance of the mandate has reached a high of 96%. The agency maintains a list of more than 330 ELDs that are self-certified by the providers.
Without the new waiver from the FMCSA, the initial exemption for agriculture-related transportation was set to expire March 18.
Complying with the mandate would have been problematic for the agriculture industry as the ELDs do not account for existing agricultural exemptions, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said.
“The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities,” Perdue said. “If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination. The 90-day extension is critical to give DOT additional time to issue guidance on hours-of-service and other ELD exemptions that are troubling for agriculture haulers.”