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FMCSA Makes Livestock Health A Priority Over Truck Driver Health

   On July 1st, 2013 the FMCSA prematurely put into effect another set of “revised” Hours of Service regulations even after several challenges by organizations and persons that questioned the validity of the data used to make those revisions. The FMCSA championed by Anne Ferro reassured a congressional panel while under oath that the data was factual and correct.  She later admitted under oath that the real data had not even come back yet before implementing the new regulations and that they based them on a theory they derived from a lab experiment they did with simulators, instead of on the road with real drivers in real world scenarios. 

Here we are one week after the new regulations were enforced and the first exemption has been made to the HOS regulations. Well exemptions happen for one reason and one reason only, a lack of research and planning before putting a regulation into action.  The first exemption will allow livestock hauler’s to ignore the mandatory 30 minute break during the 11 hour drive time and here is the official reasoning as to why this is happening straight from the FMCSA (the following has not been corrected for spelling or word usage) it is a direct copy and paste from the FMCSA website so please don’t blame me for the errors it contains. My guess is that their spell check is as broken as the agency using it.

                  “Several associations representing various segments of the livestock industry raised concerns about the risks to the health of animals from rising temparatures inside livestock trucks during driver’s mandatory 30 minute break, especially on light of long range weather forecasts for above-normal temparatures for July, August, and September 2013

General Notice- Hours of Service; Limited 90-Day Waiver from the 30-Minute Rest Break Requirement for the Transportation of Livestock - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 2013-07-08 13-03-14

I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the FMCSA say that the 30 minute break was required for safety concerns? Didn’t they say that it would help eliminate fatigued drivers on the road? Didn’t they also say it would help the overall health of drivers? Each of those things were based on their studies of course. So how is it that now it is OK in the eyes of the FMCSA suspend their own rule in regards to the health of livestock. I’m sorry but this stinks of multiple foul odors folks, if the rules were put into place because of safety then why is it OK to just ignore them when it is convenient for one organization or another? Why is it only for a 90 day period, do extreme weather conditions not exist during other times of the year? Or how about the next question, Why is it only OK for some carriers of livestock but not for others to use the exemption as the following excerpt from their full PDF version of their announcement will disclose.

“The waiver is further limited to motor carriers that have a “satisfactory” or are “unrated”  motor carriers with “conditional” or “unsatisfactory” safety ratings are prohibited from utilizing this waiver.”

So according to the above statement, the health of livestock being hauled by a carrier with a blemish on their record is less important than the health of the livestock being hauled by a carrier with a clean slate. It even lets unrated carriers take precedence even though they are so new to the industry that they don’t have a safety rating yet. Of course if you go by the claims of the FMCSA they are still putting the health of livestock above that of professional truck drivers. This new waiver or exemption is nothing more than the FMCSA getting caught with their pants down when they offended several large companies in the livestock business. It stinks of deception, corruption and the ineptitude of the offices of the FMCSA and Anne Ferro herself for trying to back-peddle when confronted with real world facts. The same real world facts that were presented to her before and she simply replied as she has done hundreds of time before with “We will have to look into that”.  No Ms. Ferro, you never looked into it and you didn’t listen to anyone who brought their concerns to you. You simply forged ahead with what you thought was right based on your zero years of experience on the road, you have now gotten so far ahead of yourself that you signed a document making the health of animals more important than the driver hauling them according to your “safety theory”. So which is it Ms. Ferro, is the 30 minute break a true safety concern or was it just put in place to appease safety advocates to prevent them from going forward with their lawsuit? How about the rest of the new “revisions” you made to the HOS regulations, are you going to give special waivers for those when faced by special interest groups? You should be ashamed that you are the head of any “safety” administration that would put the health and safety of a profession driver so low on the priority list.

For those of you who want to view the full document about the exemption/waiver you can find it here: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/rulemakings/notices/HOS-Livestock-Waiver.pdf

For those that are sick and tired of the FMCSA making new rules that had no validity in the first place and want those rules suspended and/or revoked you can sign the petition to do so at this link:  https://www.change.org/petitions/united-states-congress-suspend-the-new-hours-of-service-changes

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