Agricultural truckers slam hours-of-service safety report

Truckers for agriculture are exempt from hours restrictions during planting.
Truckers for agriculture are exempt from hours restrictions during planting.
The Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference (AFTC) of the American Trucking Associations said today that a recent report alleging safety concerns with hours-of-service (HOS) exemptions is inaccurate.

Current law exempts agricultural carriers from hours-of-service regulations within a 100-mile radius from their central base of operation during planting and harvesting seasons. Agricultural equipment is also exempted from certain traffic rules during the busy planting season.

But a report prepared by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center is being used by some groups to call for an end to the HOS exemptions for agriculture trucking, AFTC said.

A critique of the report written by Ronald Knipling, an independent consultant with 30 years of experience in traffic and motor carrier safety, concluded that the statistics cited in the report were incomplete and misused.

"It seems unwise to base a regulatory and economic decision as significant as revocation of the short-haul agricultural HOS exemption solely on (inadequate) statistics," Knipling concluded. "Imposing new agricultural HOS regulations would likely have little measurable effect on short-haul trucking safety."

Agricultural organizations sent a letter to leaders of the House transportation and infrastructure committee urging support for maintaining the agricultural HOS exemption during the transportation authorization debate.