Earlier this month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. (OOIDA) has requested an exemption from the electronic logging device (ELD) requirements for motor carriers considered to be a small transportation trucking business. The OODIA has long contended that smaller, safer carriers should be completely exempt from what the organization contends is a “costly, unproven” regulation.
According to Federal Register documents, OOIDA requested the exemption to allow small trucking businesses that do not have a carrier safety rating of “unsatisfactory” and can document a proven history of safety performance with “no attributable at-fault crashes” to complete paper records of duty status (RODS) instead of using an ELD device.
OOIDA believes that the exemption would not have any adverse impacts on operational safety as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations as well as the requirements to maintain paper RODS.
The request by OOIDA was on top of a Nov. 20, 2017, announcement by the FMCSA placing a 90-day exemption for truckers hauling agriculture loads and livestock to comply with the ELD mandate that went in to effect Dec. 18, 2017.
Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, told DTN after that announcement that, “Many agricultural haulers are concerned due to the cost of purchasing the equipment. Many who transport agricultural products are small trucking firms or owner-operators who are less able to absorb such an expense in such a tight-margin industry.”
“Many are arguing that those small businesses who have a track record of safety, who maintain a paper record of their operations should not have to incur such a cost,” Steenhoek said. “There is a concern that this mandate could drive certain small trucking firms out of business, which will reduce the capacity and amount of competition within agricultural shipping.”
Prior to the Nov. 20 announcement, Texas Congressman Brian Babin introduced HR 3282, “The Electronic Logging Device Extension Act of 2017.” The bill sought to amend the current ELD implementation date by two years until December 2019, allowing more time to further evaluate the readiness of the mandate. According to OOIDA, a separate amendment that would have cut off funding to implement, administer or enforce the ELD mandate until Sept. 30, 2018, was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, HR 3282 is still active legislation and continues to gather support and now has a total of 55 Congressional cosponsors.
Some trucking companies have said they are dealing with defective devices and software integration issues, “while some drivers and safety enforcement personnel are still learning how to handle new paperless systems. Plus, a contingent of truck operators appear to be holding out until the end of a soft enforcement period to decide whether to quit the business or to comply with the ELD rule.”
The “soft enforcement” means that while the mandate went into effect on Dec. 18, 2017, it will not be strictly enforced until April 1, 2018.
To say that this new rule continues to be contentious would be an understatement.