The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued additional guidance on the agricultural exemption on June 1, while also providing more clarity on certain situations where time would not count against a commercial driver’s available hours of service. Unfortunately, what we’ve been waiting for—clarity on what is considered an agricultural commodity—was not provided in this guidance.
The current vague and problematic definition is referenced in the guidance, however. During a conference call announcing the changes, FMCSA officials responded to questions by stating they were not prepared to clarify what exactly is or is not considered an agricultural commodity. Ultimately, which industries are specifically included or excluded appears still under deliberation.
Also read: A bump in the road - What you need to know about the ELD mandate and how it impacts the trucking industry, plant deliveries and your bottom line.
What is in the new guidance? Mainly, it focuses on situations around parking, issues associated with the agricultural exemption’s 150-mile radius, as well as what is specifically considered a “source.”
The most significant change by FMCSA centers on the ability of drivers to enter personal use/off-duty status without penalty, whether the truck is loaded or not, in order to find the nearest safe parking or rest location after hours of service (HOS) have been exhausted. In other words, time looking for a safe place to park will not count against the clock. This has been a significant issue for commercial drivers and is a welcome change to those in the trucking world.
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