The status of the federal ELD (electronic logging device) mandate is especially concerning to all livestock owners--including private, individual horse owners, from weekend trail riders to professional rodeo cowboys. The ELD mandate is part of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) and is comprised of regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
"Not for Hire" is Not Enough
This mandate is enforced by the Department of Transportation, requiring commercial motor vehicle drivers, subject to hours of service, to record driving hours electronically using an approved electronic logging device (ELD). We found that many horse owners are lumped into the same category as commercial truck drivers, simply due to the size and weight of their vehicles and trailers--even if they do not haul for profit and even if they have “not for hire” displayed on their vehicles.
Regulatory Control Did Not Account For Living Creatures - Human and Animal
Haulers are limited to driving 11 consecutive hours as well as being required to rest for 10 hours in between driving periods. This creates immense challenges for the transportation of living things, and so far, livestock and insect haulers have been granted continued exemptions. As of this writing, the FMCSA website states: “Transporters of livestock and insects are not required to have an ELD. The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice. Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption.”However, it is our understanding that the HOS (hours of service) exemption for haulers of live cargo will have an expiration date.
Alternatives Have Been Proposed to The ELD Mandate
The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act which would give truckers a minimum drive-time allowance of 15 hours and a maximum of 18. They would still be allotted the 10-hour sleep minimum.
The Responsible & Efficient AgricultureDestination (TREAD) Act, provides flexibility, promotes animal safety, and is supported by numerous agriculture groups. The TREAD Act extends the transportation hours for livestock truck drivers by increasing the hours on the back end of hauls. Each trucker can finish the route, after driving 11 hours, if they are within150 miles as a crow flies of their destination
It is No Surprise That HSUS Is Poking Around
It is important to note that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has taken a position on the issue that favors holding livestock haulers to the same HOS requirements as other truckers. Naturally, this falls right in line with their overall stance against any and all animal use, because they know the immense damage the mandate would do to all manner of animal enterprises if applied to livestock haulers. From the HSUS website:
“...making roads less safe for people and animals by exempting livestock haulers from the electronic logging device rule, which will lead to greater truck driver fatigue and resulting crashes that endanger everyone on the road and the animals being hauled. Longer trips without rest periods also facilitate the spread of diseases and pathogens like influenza and salmonella."
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Data Shows Increase in Crashes Involving Semis
Data from NHTSA shows that there has actually been a slight increase in fatal crashes involving “big rigs” since the implementation of the ELD mandate, demonstrating that the mandate has done absolutely nothing to improve overall safety and only serves to create a completely unnecessary logistical and financial burden.
Loophole For Horse Owners -Not Horse Trainers
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), there is now an exception for non-business related transportation of horses which includes the transportation of horses to horse shows or events.
The FMCSA Site states:
"To qualify for this exception, there can be no compensation for the transportation, and the driver cannot be engaged in business related to the transportation (i.e., a professional racing operation transporting horses to a race)."
"In such non-business related transportation, the FMCSRs do not apply, even if prize or scholarship money is offered. This exception includes Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, requirements for Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) regulations unless a CDL is required by the driver’s home state."
Additional rules, exemptions, and scenarios can be found HERE on the FMCSA website
Data from NHTSA shows that there has actually been a slight increase in fatal crashes involving “big rigs” since the implementation of the ELD mandate, demonstrating that the mandate has done absolutely nothing to improve overall safety and only serves to create a completely unnecessary logistical and financial burden
States Have Their Own Rules and Regulations
It is important to note that in addition to all of the federal regulations, each individual state also has rules related to hauling and classes of licensing. It is vital for all haulers of livestock, for any purpose, to be aware of the pertinent laws of the states in which they are licensed.
Exemptions Should Be Made Permanent Rules
Even with proposals such as TLAAS and TREAD that are meant to ease the logistical burden on livestock haulers, it is our official position at Western Justice that the exemptions for livestock haulers, including horse owners, should be made permanent for the following reasons:
Common sense animal welfare practices dictate that animals should be in transport for as little time as possible for their health and safety; requiring a 10-hour rest when there is nowhere to unload, feed, and care for animals is inhumane. Creating the livestock-friendly infrastructure necessary to allow for unloading would cost billions in taxpayer dollars and create an entirely new set of issues. Would loading and unloading be part of rest time or drive time? Who handles the animals to ensure not only their welfare but also biosecurity? The vast majority of livestock owners don’t want their animals handled by just anyone. Who documents arrival and departure and keeps records of where each load arrived from and went to, in case of disease in a load?
Ranchers, who are both horse owners and cattlemen, should rightly be concerned about increased animal welfare issues and expenses that anything except a full, permanent exemption will cause for the ranching industry