The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Dec. 7 published denials to 10 different electronic logging device (ELD) mandate exemption requests. The most notable of the groups whose requests were denied was the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which requested a five-year exemption from the ELD mandate for "certain motor carriers considered to be a small transportation trucking business."
The 10 requests for exemptions were actually denied in June and July but were just made public by the FMCSA when it filed its final decision in the Federal Register on Dec. 7. In almost every denial, the FMCSA stated the groups seeking exemptions had not explained how they would "achieve the equivalent level of safety" that would be realized by the use of an ELD.
"FMCSA has reviewed these applications carefully and the comments received and has concluded that each application lacks sufficient merit to justify the exemptions sought," the Department of Transportation agency said in the Dec. 7 Federal Register.
Click the link to read the register:
As a reminder, the biggest issue surrounding the use of an ELD is that it intertwines with the hours of service (HOS) rule. The ELD mandate requires all commercial drivers who prepare HOS records to connect an ELD to a vehicle's engine to record driving hours. Once the time expires, the ELD doesn't shut the truck down, but it alerts the driver that they are violating the rule if they continue to drive.
This can be problematic for drivers who are carrying live animals or perishable commodities and may be close to their final destination or have been delayed in traffic along their route. Because of the electronic monitoring, they are forced to park the truck or risk fines or other penalties if they continue to drive, because the ELD records them going past their allotted hours.
Several bills were introduced in Congress in 2018 that would revise the hours of service rule, and the FMCSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on Aug. 23, listing four specific areas in which the agency is considering changes.
Click the link to view the notice:
The original comment period on the FMSCA's proposed rule changes was supposed to end on Sept. 24, but a number of organizations requested extensions. In order to provide all interested parties with additional time to submit comments, the FMCSA extended the deadline to Oct. 10, 2018.
Here is a link to a story I wrote on Oct. 29: "Ag Groups Make Final Plea to FMSCA for Changes to HOS Rule":
The bottom line is that the ELD mandate is not going away, but the issues affecting the hours of service rule because of the ELD may be adjusted to ensure safety for certain truckers and the loads they are hauling. The other consideration at stake is the safety of the drivers who share the roads with semis and whether extending hours for truckers can be a safety hazard. In the end, it could be a difficult balance to achieve.
Mary Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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