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FMCSA denies exemptions for drivers traveling with pets

Agency notes lack of evidence provided by business group that safety standards could be ensured if HOS/ELD exemptions were granted for drivers with pets

Drivers with pets sought regulatory relief. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Federal regulators have denied a request by the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) to ease regulations for drivers traveling with their pets.

In a document to be published in the federal register Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asserted that after assessing SBTC’s petition and subsequent comments that the agency couldn’t ensure safety levels would be maintained if it were to approve the request.

SBTC had been seeking an exemption from both the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and the hours-of-service (HOS) requirements, asking that drivers with pet companions be allowed to drive up to 13 hours during a work shift and to operate within a 16-hour window, which extends beyond the current driving limits.

“Drivers need to drive slower — rather than race the clock — when animals are on board to prevent injuries, especially when negotiating rough roads, so they need more than the normal hours of service to complete their runs,” SBTC contended in its petition filed earlier this year.

“When drivers have an extended day beyond the 14-hour rule, they can take more breaks, feed, relieve and exercise their pets and reduce the likelihood that they will drive fatigued. This additional two hours will reduce the current trend in large truck occupant fatalities, improve overall safety, which is clearly in the public interest, and save the lives of thousands of animals not currently being included in the large truck occupant fatality statistic by [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. We suggest animals count too.”

FMCSA acknowledged that close to 80% of the 165 comments favored the exemption. However, in support of its decision to deny SBTC’s request, FMCSA emphasized comments from several groups, including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).

“FMCSA approval of this application would, in essence, apply an overbroad category of exempted individuals to an insufficiently defined class of exemption,” noted ATA. “Despite some research that shows how domestic animals can improve driver feelings of companionship and, anecdotally, safety, SBTC’s application does not support the agency’s obligation of ensuring an equivalent or greater level of safety than exists under the current regulation.”

According to CVSA, if the agency were to approve SBTC’s request, the additional driving and on-duty time “will expose drivers to a greater risk of fatigue, putting themselves and the public at risk and the ELD exemption would make adherence to the hours-of-service rules much more difficult to verify. The hours-of-service framework is put in place to prevent this type of excessive driving that causes fatigue.”

FMCSA also asserted that SBTC failed to offer countermeasures “to ensure an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved under compliance with the current rules.”

In addition, revisions to the HOS rules that went into effect on Sept. 29 to add more flexibility for drivers did not allow drivers additional driving time beyond the current 11-hour limit or the 14-hour duty day, it stated.

“None of the final rule provisions increases the maximum allowable driving time, as the available data does not support any additional driving time.”

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  1. Chis

    Who in there right mind would support this pile of carp Exemption
    I travel with my copilot 7 pound yorkie for 8 years on the truck now,all this Exemption what do is make trackers that shouldn’t even have a dog or a pet get one….. Whoever was trying to pass this exemption should feel bad and also be bitten by a dog…

  2. Deshay mcclinchy

    I’ve driven for over 20 yrs and rode along before that. When drivers had 2 paper logbooks, and original hos that hadn’t changed in 60 yrs and 2/3 of everyone did uppers and smack and many drugs and drove very fast trucks, there wasn’t anywhere near the amount of wrecks and misery on our nations roads as we have now. Can anyone explain that? Was everyone just lucky for 60 yrs. with all these regulations and rules now, I can’t believe the chaos I see now on a daily basis. What gives??

    1. Chis

      Rose colored glass my friend….
      1. They amount of traffic and cars on the road from the 80’s and 90’s is is roughly 180,000 more…

      2. Stats and the truth would say you’re wrong

      1998 total pod crashes 418,000
      2018 total pod 414,000

      (Pod) Property only damage

      I can go on but whats the point

    2. Dov

      Umm, no. What Chis said. Many fewer wrecks today when number of trucks/miles driven is taken into account. No shortage of rose colored glasses in trucking! Hear it every day from the phantom 35-year driver on the radio!

  3. J.R.

    No matter what rules are presented there will always be idiots coming up with ways to break or extend them , I have 2 Chihuahuas and we do fine with the current rules. I hear the BLM wants black drivers to be paid whether they deliver a load or not and to be paid reparations for blacks that drove wagons in the 1800’s .. not really but that’s the lunacy were dealing with, too many non English speaking illegals driving causing accidents and killing people daily that’s why these regulations are here and we have to deal with them, and your going to say everyone needs a job…yes in their country not on U.S. roads killing and maming U.S. citizens. Anyways back to the pet thing …..really I’m surprised anyone even accepted these lunatics emails about a change the hours are long enough either get a better job that pays more or quit.

  4. Gary D. Shoemaker

    Wow, I have adopted retired racing greyhounds since 1995 and travel with them. I have never run into any situation that requires me to drive less than the speed limit to ensure the safety of my hounds. Further, I volunteer with a greyhound adoption group and have been involved with transporting them from the track to our adoption facility, usually a 5-6 hour drive with out these issues. This request from the SBTC can only be viewed as stupid.

  5. Mike Broaddus

    Most stupid thing I’ve ever heard of. I’ve driven with a dog almost all my career of over 30 years and none of this ever came to mind. Who are they trying to kid?

    I’m not fan of FMCSA and their HOS fiascos, but SBTC has brass balls to bring this BS argument to the table.

Comments are closed.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.