Washington, DC—During this session of Congress, numerous measures have been introduced to modify Department of Transportation (DOT) commercial truck driver requirements.
The proposed changes include expanding the number of hours truckers are legally allowed to drive (referred to as “hours of service,” or HOS) and delaying implementation of the requirement that truck driver HOS be monitored by electronic logging devices (ELDs). Animal agriculture trade associations and the agricultural trucking industry claim that these changes are necessary to ensure the welfare of farm animals transported by truck in the United States.
Dena Jones, director of the Animal Welfare Institute’s (AWI) farm animal program, issued the following statement regarding legislative attempts to modify truck driver requirements:
AWI supports prompt implementation of the ELD requirement by the agriculture trucking industry. ELDs are an objective record of truck driver service hours and offer a mechanism for monitoring compliance with DOT laws and regulations, including the 28- Hour Law that governs the length of time farm animals may be transported before they must be offloaded for food, water and rest.
AWI understands that the agricultural trucking industry is opposed to ELD implementation, because the technology will demonstrate that some truckers are routinely driving longer than federally mandated hours. These companies maintain that they are forced to drive beyond the HOS limits to protect the health and welfare of the animals they are transporting. While AWI shares a concern about the amount of time animals spend in transit, it does not support a solution that involves allowing truckers to drive significantly longer periods.
Extending hours of service will lead to increased incidents of driver fatigue—endangering the truckers, the animals and the occupants of other vehicles on the road. AWI recommends that farm animal truckers carefully plan their trips to minimize driving time. Trucking companies should not accept assignments that involve driving in excess of the current HOS time limits, unless they intend to employ teams of drivers. A problem related to farm animal trucking may well exist, but significantly extending driver hours of service is not the answer.
Margie Fishman, (202) 446-2128, firstname.lastname@example.org