Three additional states have implemented 30-day waivers of the federal hours-of-service rules, citing tight supplies of drivers as a reason.

The steps by Minnesota, Wyoming and Iowa to declare a state of emergency as the basis for the waiver follow a recent decision by South Dakota to also implement a 30-day HOS waiver, with that state citing driver availability as well.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed the order Wednesday supported by much of the state’s agricultural industry. 

Federal law allows states to declare their own 30-day waivers from HOS rules. Several states that had similar waivers in place for Hurricane Elsa are on the verge of seeing those exemptions expire in the next few days. 

In Minnesota, according to the statement issued by the governor’s office, the issue is a lack of adequate drivers combined with a drought that is forcing some agricultural deliveries to go farther than normal to get products to or from markets. 

“These [drought] conditions have resulted in a significant decrease in the availability of hay and other forage in Minnesota and neighboring states,” Walz’s statement said. “This has prompted farmers and livestock producers to change their operations, including reducing their herd or shipping livestock earlier than normal.”

Because of the drought, the statement said, there has been a drop of about 10,000 acres of “harvestable” hay “and will require farmers and livestock producers to travel farther distances to obtain hay and forage needed to feed their livestock.”

The governor went on to say that such organizations as the Minnesota Farmers Union and the Minnesota Cattlemen had asked for “emergency relief measures to increase access to livestock forage.”

“Strict enforcement of certain hours of service regulations would prevent or hinder the efficient transportation of forage, which is critical to maintain healthy livestock,” the governor’s statement added. 

The statement specifically noted the federal HOS regulation, 49 CFR § 395.3, as being waived under the state’s action. However, it keeps in place the part of that rule restricting driving to 11 hours over a 14-hour period. It also said that a “fatigued or ill” driver may not be required to work. And if drivers say they need rest, they must be given 10 consecutive off-duty hours before coming back to work.

In the case of Wyoming and Iowa, the wording is similar and is targeted at deliveries of petroleum. In Wyoming, the 30-day exemption was implemented July 20. Iowa’s is more recent, going into effect Thursday.

Both proclamations target low supplies of petroleum. In Wyoming, however, it also noted efforts to fight wildfires in the state as requiring additional supplies of petroleum. 

In both states, the waivers forbid requiring a fatigued driver to get behind the wheel. In the case of Iowa, at the end of the 30-day period, if a driver has been on duty for more than 70 hours during any eight consecutive days, that driver must be given at least 34 consecutive hours off.

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