FMCSA issues regulatory clarification on agricultural hauling

by Truck News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is bringing clarity to the Hours of Service (HoS) exemptions for agricultural haulers.

The FMCSA received 566 comments and questions during a public consultation period this winter on the proposed regulatory guidance surrounding the issue and is providing answers to areas of the exemptions that were less than clear.

Comments indicated carriers were confused about HoS exemptions when dealing with unladen vehicles and were unsure whether the HoS rules applied when trucks were empty. The administration says a regulation where drivers were subject to HoS rules while in-between agricultural loads doesn’t make sense, and that the exemption also applies to unladen vehicles.

The FMCSA says it is also giving a wide interpretation to the 150 air-mile rule.

The rule states that HoS regulations don’t apply during planting and harvest time to those agricultural haulers moving product within 150 air-miles from their start point.

While some have been interpreting this rule to mean the destination must be within the 150-mile radius, the FMCSA says there is no reason that needs to be the case.

The clarification on the rule says drivers are exempt from HoS regulations from the start point of the trip to the 150 air-mile line. Once drivers are no longer 150 air-miles or less away from their destination – even if it is with the same load, in the same trip – the HoS regulations apply. The same is true for unladen vehicles returning to their start point between loads.

“The Agency disagrees that it would be impossible to determine HOS compliance outside the 150 air-mile radius. Transporters are required to maintain records of duty status and supporting documents when not operating under an exception,” they said.

Drivers are also allowed to make multiple pick-ups and drop-offs, but the 150-mile rule will continue to be measured from the first pick-up point.

Clarification on the meaning of the word “location” says that a location for the purposes of determining the 150-mile radius can mean grain silo, farm, livestock market, or other source where the produce or livestock pick-up originated.

This interpretation means that as long as the product is in it’s original form, a “source location” can mean more than just a farm or field. Once the product has been processed or changed, however, it’s pick-up point no longer qualifies.

The answers to these questions are aimed at making the law less murky, and giving clarification to both haulers and U.S. law enforcement officials.

The full text of the clarification can be read here.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.


  • So the 150 air mile radius is a big circle from my start point , that means that I can leave home , drive about 175 mile straight north , pick up my load then drive about 175 mile straight east ( now I’ve driven 350 mile ) but I can now start my log and do another 11 hours driving in a 14 hour period. So I can legally drive about 1,000 mile today. Is this correct? Because I know some people that are doing this hauling live chickens

    • No. You have to abide by 14 hour hos rule. The hours you drive to pick up or unload are exempt. Does not count against your 70 hour weekly load. The 175 drive to pick up and the 175 in route do not count against your 70 hours, but you have to abide by the daily 14 hour rule. So if you leave at 8:00 am at 10 pm your done. Once you go beyond the 150 air miles you must log.

    • At 175 miles you’re out of the radius,so you need to start your log at 150 miles. So if you drive 150 north,go back 150 to your origin (now 300 miles),then you can go another 150 in any direction,without logging hos. That’s how I read it anyway….once out of the 150,at any time,you must be logging hos. Empty or loaded.

  • So,if I’m hauling with my commercial truck,off of the farm,for a customer….say 30 miles one way,making 4 or 5 trips a day. As long as I’m in the 150 mile radius,then I don’t have to run a log book ?