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Exemptions for agricultural drivers may hinder safety

| Jan 9, 2019 | Commercial Truck Accidents |

Commercial truckers in North Carolina know how the electronic logging device mandate went into effect back in December 2017. They may also know how drivers carrying agricultural commodities were granted a temporary exemption. This was just one of a long line of exemptions granted to truckers in the agricultural industry since the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995.

With that act, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration established a 100 air-mile radius, which was expanded to 150 in 2012, around pickup spots inside of which drivers were exempt from hours-of-service regulations. They only had to log in their hours if they intended to go outside the radius. Then, in the summer of 2017, the FMCSA revised this law so that now truckers only need to log in their hours when completely outside the radius, never inside.

In granting these exemptions, the FMCSA is responding to the complaints of agricultural industry safety advocates. For example, there are concerns about the well-being of livestock when drivers have to keep taking mandatory rest breaks.

Other safety advocates believe that the exemptions are undermining safety and leading precisely to what the FMCSA wants to prevent: fatigue behind the wheel. They also express concern that law enforcement and regulatory agencies now cannot track when agricultural drivers are on the job and when they are taking breaks within the radius.

Overwork and fatigue are often major factors in commercial truck accidents. Truckers who violate HOS regulations by exceeding the number of work hours allotted to them or by refusing to take the mandatory breaks will be to blame for any crashes they cause. Victims who wish to be compensated for their injuries, vehicle damage and other losses will usually be filing a claim against the trucking company, so hiring a lawyer may be beneficial.

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