NOTE: THESE COMMENTS ARE INTENDED TO PROVIDE VERY GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. YOU MUST REFER TO PERTINENT FEDERAL AND STATE STATUTES AND RULES FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION.
AUSTIN (February 5, 2018) – These comments are intended to provide very general information only regarding Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Rules Affecting Texas Farmers, Ranchers, Related Ag Industries, and Ag Sport (Rodeo and Special Event) Recreational Transportation.
Years ago, the U. S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created federal transportation rules designed to enhance transportation safety that required some drivers of larger vehicles and trailers to have a commercial drivers’ license, and under certain conditions, to report driving hours.
More recently, FMCSA instituted the electronic logging device (ELD) rules that require some drivers to convert from paper to electronic travel logging. The deadline to convert was Dec. 17, 2017, with a grace period until April 1, 2018. The reason for this is because the electronic logging device is more accurate than paper logging methods. This will make it easier to find who is at fault should a fatal truck accident happen to a truck that is transporting farming goods. If the logging device shows that the driver is over-fatigued then he will be at fault. Although FMCSA rules have been in place for quite some time and are final in nature, the more recent electronic logging requirements have caught the attention of agricultural drivers in Texas and across the nation.
Being on the roads in general means giving your full attention, but even more so while on the road for a longer period of time. At times, it can be hard, especially when you start to feel tired. Accidents are more likely to happen through drivers not paying attention on the roads. For example, truck drivers are required to drive long distances for work purposes. Their days generally start in the morning and can last into the night. This is why it is important to take your breaks during work. If you are a truck driver, whether commercially or for your own business, you could look into a site like https://bestelddevices.com/fleetmatics-reveal-review/ to help you find a solution to staying safe on the road and prioritising your own safety and wellbeing rather than your sole purpose being just your job.
FMCSA rule changes did not require anyone to obtain new or additional commercial drivers’ licenses and did not require anyone that was not already required to do the paper travel logs to report electronically under the newer rules. If you were not required to have a commercial drivers’ license in the past and you did not have to log your travel, you do not have to do so today.
For those agriculture drivers in the past who had to possess a commercial drivers’ license and log travel hours on paper, you are now required to log your travel hours through the use of the electronic logging device (enforcement begins April 2, 2018, unless a further grace period is extended by FMCSA).
Your commercial drivers’ license requirements, hours of driving, miles you can drive, the size of the truck you can drive, as well as the limits on the capacity and actual weights of loaded trailers, has not changed due to the ELD requirements.
What Can TDA Do to Help?
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and the Texas Department of Agriculture will continue supporting farmers, ranchers, supporting industries and agriculture sports recreational transportation needs in Texas. The Texas Department of Agriculture does not regulate such transportation in Texas. All Texans can spread the word to federal officeholders that a change is needed to FMCSA transportation rules. More specifically, Texans need agricultural-related waivers/exemptions to the motor carrier rules that will allow the flexibility to transport livestock and agricultural products in a manner that is predictable and workable in a state the size of Texas. Impacted Texans are encouraged to engage the U.S. Department of Transportation, appropriate coalitions and impacted stakeholders to find an adequate and long-term solution for the agriculture industry on the new rule on transportation of agricultural commodities released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety.
More information on federal transportation requirements, licenses and electronic logging devices is available at the links below:
• DPS has put together a Texas Guide to Farm Vehicle Compliance at the below site. It is not updated for the new electronic logging device information but is good information. Click here.
• The Texas Trucking Association has ELD information on its website, although such may not be specific for agricultural applications. Click here.
• The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations has very specific and complete information, however, it is technical in nature. Click here.