Federal transportation regulations impose extensive documentation, testing, certification, inspection, recording and recordkeeping requirements on commercial trucking firms and their drivers. Yet these same requirements are also now imposed upon a farmer who his own vehicle just a few times a year to pick up supplies for the farm or to deliver agricultural products produced on the farm.
The recently changed Pennsylvania law and regulations (in response to USDOT/FMCSA mandates) impose the following requirements on drivers of farm trucks pulling another vehicle (like a farm implement or trailer) and the vehicles together weigh more than (or have a carrying capacity greater than) 26,000 pounds:
Persons Under 18 Prohibited - Anyone under 18 years of age is no longer able to legally operate these trucks. This includes the farmer’s children.
Medical Certification Required - Any driver of these vehicles on a public road needs to be medically tested and have a certificate declaring the driver to be “physically qualified”.
Driver’s Logs/Employer Recordkeeping Required - Drivers of these vehicles are now subject to the same “hours of service” requirements of trucking companies and their drivers. It will include minimum periods of “break time,” limits on hours driven between breaks, along with record keeping (commonly known as drivers’ logs). Farmers are responsible for getting and keeping records of all the paperwork that federal regulations require trucking companies to keep and maintain.
Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Required - Drivers of these trucks are now required to conduct pre-trip inspections and complete written post-trip reports on the function of vehicle’s “safety” equipment. Inspections and reports must be filled out each day the vehicle is used. Farmers are now required to immediately repair any “defects” noted in the report. Farmers are also required to make sure the written safety reports are being kept and keep and maintain records of all reports made.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau calls on Congress to clarify (in the reauthorization of the Federal Highway bill) that intra-state agricultural transportation is not subject to interstate federal highway regulations. Congress must make certain that drivers of farm trucks pulling trailers or farm implements, used in the growing, harvesting or transportation of farm products, are not subject to the same requirements as cross-country drivers.