Drivers beware: Livestock haulers have different restrictions

There are always trucks buzzing along Missouri interstates, and hopefully, the operators are in good health and of sound mind. One of the contributing factors to tractor-trailer crashes is sleep deprivation. With tight deadlines and confined conditions, it is easy for truckers to fall into a pattern of drive longer, sleep later.

Recently, an incident outside of St. Louis has raised concerns over the lack of driving restrictions for operators of tractor-trailers hauling livestock.

Federal regulations

Under safe trucking practices and procedures mandated by the government, truckers can only drive 14 hours before resting for 10 hours. Many trucking companies have gone away from manual tracking of hours and miles by the drivers to an ELD, or electronic logging device that automatically tracks the time the truck is in motion.

Livestock haulers get a break

Many in the agricultural sector have fought hard to waive the driving restriction for livestock haulers. The argument, in large part, centers on the fact that a semi with a load of live animals cannot necessarily stop for 10 hours at a time. The animals cannot face confinement and lack of food, water and space for that amount of time. Lobbyists insist that livestock haulers should get an extra two hours of driving time a day. This is the standard as of today.

Truck driving statistics

The year 2017 was the deadliest yet for drivers and occupants of tractor-trailers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 841 semi-operators and passengers died in accidents. Missouri's own fatalities kept pace with current trends and increased 40 percent over four years starting in 2013.

While new measures such as GPS tracking and mandatory rest periods aim to help ward off fatigue for tractor-trailer drivers, the number of crashes they cause keeps rising. While agricultural trucks getting a two-hour extension on driving time does not seem like a lot, however, over a week or two, it adds up to big chunks of time.

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