Industry seeks changes to Hours of Service, Electronic Logging Device rules

PRESS RELEASE A petition for rulemaking was filed March 15 by United Fresh and other agricultural associations to receive modification to the Hours of Service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rules for perishable fruit and vegetable commodities.

This issue is important to the safe and timely delivery of perishable fruits and vegetables across the United States, and the requested modifications to the HOS and ELD regulations will give increased flexibility to truck drivers for the delivery of perishable commodities. To ensure driver and public safety, and to combat the challenges growers and shippers face across the supply chain.

The associations listed above have asked for the following changes to the HOS rules:
• Add an allowance for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting this rest time against their HOS allotments
• Exclude loading and unloading times from the 14-hour on-duty HOS calculations
• Allow drivers to complete their trip, regardless of HOS requirements, if they come within 150 air miles of their delivery point

The petition takes into consideration safety of both the driver and consumer to deliver quality produce while following USDA requirements. Current HOS and ELD requirements contribute to higher volumes of undesirable food waste and delays in shipping and delivery can destroy the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables. Modifying the HOS and ELD regulations for perishable commodities will better align FMCSA with the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Rule, which spells out food safety requirements.

Current HOS rules do not allow a driver to turn off the ELD when stopping to rest along a route. The petition asks for driver ability to pause the ELD during rest periods and loading times. This would add an allowance for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting this rest time against their HOS allotments. In addition, it asks the FMCSA to consider excluding loading and unloading times from the 14- hour on-duty HOS calculations. To help address both of these concerns, the petition asks for adding flexibility to the Split

Sleeper Berth Provision that allows for splitting sleeper berth time, adding up to a 10-hour rest period, and allowing for more flexibility to take shorter breaks when drivers need them.

Lastly, the petition requests that the FMCSA consider allowing drivers to complete their trip, regardless of HOS requirements, if they come within 150 air miles of their delivery point (if delivery takes place on any day beyond the original departure work period).

These modifications are necessary for the movement of perishable commodities and will give drivers the flexibility needed to complete deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables that meet USDA regulations and enhance driver and public safety measures.

United Fresh Produce Association and the other organizations listed above fully supports these modifications to the HOS and ELD regulations. If these changes are not made, we suggest delaying enforcement of current HOS and ELD rules for trucks hauling perishable fruits and vegetables for two to four years to allow for improvement in the regulations.

The petitioning group consists of: American Farm Bureau Federation, California Citrus Mutual, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Fresh Fruit Association, California Specialty Crops Council, Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association, Florida Blueberry Growers Association, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Florida Tomato Exchange, Florida Watermelon Association, Georgia Farm Bureau Federation, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Processing Apple Growers, National Watermelon Association, Produce Marketing Association, Sunshine Sweet Corn Farmers of Florida, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas International Produce Association, and Western Growers Association.