Sikh truckers have become the latest group to file a formal request for an exemption to next month’s rule imposing electronic logging devices in commercial vehicles.
In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, the Sikh drivers ask for a one-year enforcement delay, followed by a waiver and limited exemption for compliance with the ELD mandate. The letter was filed jointly by SikhsPAC – a political action committee representing American Sikhs, and the North American Punjabiz Trucker Association.
Among the concerns raised by the groups in their letter are a lack of available ELD devices on the market which are able to factor in existing hours of service exemptions used by produce haulers, and questions of reliability of certain app-based ELDs to properly function in rural areas with limited or no broadband internet connectivity.
“The current ELD retail marketplace does not accommodate the needs of our impacted industry segment,” the group stated in its petition. “The devices are not able to factor in existing HOS exemptions currently being utilized by fresh produce haulers and the SikhsPAC small truckers who are members of the other impacted industry sectors.”
The petition also raises issue with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s decision to let ELD device manufacturers self-certify compliance with the mandate.
“For several safety reasons, it is imperative that FMSCA rewrite the rule to assure the drivers and companies of the reliability of the devices when used as instructed,” SikhsPAC chairman Gurinder Singh Khalsa said in a news release announcing the petition for exemption. “Right now, (drivers) are being required to purchase devices that are self-certified by the venders. That is like putting the fox to guard the henhouse.”
Last month, FMCSA granted the first exemption to the mandate to the Truck Rental and Leasing Association. The exemption stipulates that trucks rented or leased for 30 days or fewer will not be required to have ELDs installed. Additional exemption requests have been filed by livestock and cattle haulers. Truckers and fleets who use a mobile device-based ELD were also granted an exemption in October that would allow them to change their duty status outside or away from their vehicles.
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