July 17, 2013 --On July 11, 2013, The United States Department of Transportation-Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted the request of the livestock industry to waive the mandatory 30-minute break provision in the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations for the transportation of livestock, including horses, for 90 days until Oct. 9, 2013.
In 2011, the FMCSA published its final rule concerning HOS for drivers of commercial vehicles transporting livestock, including horses. The final rule provides that a driver may only drive if eight hours or less have passed since the end of the driver's last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. This mandatory 30-minute break caused concern for the industry because of potential rising temperatures inside livestock trailers that could harm the health and welfare of the animals.
Long-range weather forecasts for the remainder of summer and early fall call for temperatures for the greater part of the United States to be higher than usual. The FMCSA took these long range forecasts into account when making the decision to grant the extension.
The HOS exemption is specifically for drivers transporting livestock as defined in the Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance Act of 1988, which includes horses. It is important to note, that under current regulations, this will only affect drivers moving horses commercially. HOS exemptions already exist for those occasionally transporting their own horses within 150 miles of home and not crossing a state or international boundary.
The American Horse Council supports the FMCSA and its decision to put the health and welfare of the horse during transport in the hands of the driver to assure that it arrives at its destination in a timely and safe fashion.
To view waiver in its entirety, please see the Federal Register.
This information was supplied by the American Horse Council.