WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced Thursday new regulatory guidance clarifying the 150 air-miles Hours of Service (HOS) agricultural commodity exemption, as well as providing additional explanatory detail of the “personal conveyance” provision.
“Due to input from commercial vehicle stakeholders and the public, the department has taken steps to provide greater clarity and flexibility regarding the intent and effect of these regulations for the agricultural and other sectors,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
The guidance clarifies the exception on several points: drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity or returning from a delivery point; drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity; determining the “source” of agricultural commodities under the exemptions; and how the exception applies when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip. This regulatory guidance is issued to ensure consistent understanding and application of the exception by motor carriers and state officials enforcing HOS rules identical to or compatible with FMCSA’s requirements.
FMCSA published Federal Register notices proposing regulatory guidance for the transportation of agricultural commodities and the use of personal conveyance in December 2017 and requested public comment.
FMCSA in a news release stated the agency is providing clarity on the use of the agricultural exemption and personal conveyance to both industry and law enforcement along with providing as much flexibility as possible for the industry, while maintaining safety.
“We are dedicated to finding effective solutions to challenges, exploring new opportunities for innovation and constantly seeking ways to improve,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez.
Nearly 850 public comments were submitted to the Federal Register dockets on the proposed guidance pertaining to the transportation of agricultural commodities and to the personal conveyance provision.
The new regulatory guidance is presented in a question-and-answer format and explains the 150 air-mile radius agricultural commodity exemption and how the source of the commodity is determined. For a copy of this guidance, click here.
The new regulatory guidance also outlines and includes numerous examples of under what circumstances a commercial motor vehicle driver may operate the truck or bus for personal conveyance.
For a copy of this guidance, click here.