New truck law does not af­fect farm­ers

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - OPINION - CECILE BLED­SOE Arkansas Sen­a­tor

LIT­TLE ROCK — Some­times elected of­fi­cials and law en­force­ment agen­cies must con­duct pub­lic in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns to ex­plain how peo­ple are af­fected when a new law is passed.

Th­ese days, the op­po­site is tak­ing place. The High­way Po­lice and leg­is­la­tors are in the rare po­si­tion of ex­plain­ing to the pub­lic that a new law does not af­fect them.

In this case, it is farm­ers and peo­ple who haul cat­tle, horses and other live­stock. There have been con­cerns that they would be af­fected by new fed­eral reg­u­la­tions geared for com­mer­cial truck driv­ers.

The High­way Po­lice have held meet­ings with the pub­lic and had in­di­vid­ual dis­cus­sions with leg­is­la­tors to as­sure them that noth­ing has changed in the en­force­ment of farm ve­hi­cles haul­ing live­stock and rodeo an­i­mals.

The new rules re­quire elec­tronic mon­i­tors to be in­stalled in com­mer­cial trucks, to log the amount of time the driver spends be­hind the wheel. The pur­pose is to more strictly en­force rules that limit truck driv­ers from driv­ing for such long hours that they get drowsy or dis­tracted.

For ex­am­ple, com­mer­cial truck driv­ers are not sup­posed to drive more than 11 hours in a 14-hour pe­riod. An elec­tronic log of their trav­els will re­place pa­per logs.

The pop­u­lar­ity of so­cial me­dia such as Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter has fu­eled the spread of con­cerns about the po­ten­tial ef­fect on live­stock haulers. The High­way Po­lice and ad­vo­cates for live­stock haulers who stud­ied the de­tails of the new truck­ing reg­u­la­tions want peo­ple to know that the ex­emp­tions for haul­ing horses and cat­tle are still in place.

For ex­am­ple, if you oc­ca­sion­ally load a horse on a trailer to par­tic­i­pate in a live­stock show or rodeo, noth­ing has changed, ac­cord­ing to the head of the High­way Po­lice.

If you drive fewer than 150 miles, you’re still ex­empt from re­quire­ments that you ob­tain a com­mer­cial driver’s li­cense. If you travel be­yond the 150-mile ra­dius, you’re still ex­empt if you make the trip fewer than eight times within a 30 day pe­riod. This ex­emp­tion ap­plies not only to horse own­ers on recre­ational trips, but also to farm­ers haul­ing com­modi­ties.

In re­sponse to con­cerns from leg­is­la­tors, farm­ers and cat­tle­men, High­way Po­lice of­fi­cials have as­sured state law­mak­ers that they have not stepped up en­force­ment of farm ve­hi­cles and live­stock trail­ers.

The new reg­u­la­tions re­quir­ing truck­ers to keep elec­tronic logs of their trips were adopted at the fed­eral level by the Fed­eral Mo­tor Car­rier Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FMCSA), and not by leg­is­la­tors at the state Capi­tol in Lit­tle Rock.

If you have any ques­tions call the High­way Po­lice cen­tral of­fice at 501-5692421 and ask for help in de­ter­min­ing whether or not you are re­quired to have a com­mer­cial driver’s li­cense for the type of ve­hi­cle you drive and the type of trips you make.

Con­cealed Carry In­struc­tion

Last year the leg­is­la­ture passed laws in­creas­ing the num­ber of lo­ca­tions where a per­mit holder could legally carry a con­cealed firearm, if they take ad­di­tional train­ing. Cer­tifi­cates were sent to about 70 in­struc­tors last week that au­tho­rize them to be­gin the en­hanced train­ing.

A cou­ple of in­struc­tors who qual­i­fied said in in­ter­views with the me­dia that they al­ready had lengthy wait­ing lists for the en­hanced train­ing.

•••

Ed­i­tor’s note: Arkansas Sen­a­tor Cecile Bled­soe rep­re­sents the third district. From Rogers, Sen. Bled­soe is chair of the Pub­lic Health, Wel­fare and La­bor Com­mit­tee.

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