Carrier granted HOS exemption despite regular use of ELDs

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 11/15/2017

A California trucking company has been granted an hours-of-service exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but there is an odd twist: FMCSA granted the exemption partly because the company uses electronic logging devices.

Rail Delivery Services, San Bernardino, Calif., was granted the five-year exemption on Nov. 14. RDS requested the exemption for its 100-120 drivers as a short-haul operation with trips within a 100 air-mile radius. Under FMCSA regulation 49 CFR 395.1, short-haul operations are exempt from HOS rules as long as drivers return to work at the reporting location and are released within 12 consecutive hours.

However, RDS claims that approximately 15 percent of its drivers return to their reporting location more than 12 hours from coming on duty. RDS claims that although still within the 100 air-mile radius, delays at rail yards and shipper locations prevent drivers from returning within 12 hours.

The company also claims that these late drivers almost always return within 14 hours. RDS estimates that an average of less than 2 percent of drivers exceeds the daily 14-hour limit.

Because of time-consuming paperwork, RDS has implemented ELDs in its trucks. According to the Federal Register, “RDS states that the use of a daily log book or an ‘exempt’ log does not enable the carrier to monitor and respond to these events in real-time. Violations are discovered 12 to 24 hours later.”

FMCSA granted the exemption because it “believes that RDS’ use of the Geotab 7 system, along with RDS’ increased focus on driver training and education, goes beyond basic compliance with the federal regulations.”

However, public comments suggested that some were opposed to the exemption for the precise reason FMCSA granted it: the Geotab ELD system.

Of the 14 public comments available at the Federal Register, 10 were opposed, mostly citing ELDs for their reasoning. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety was one such naysayer.

“If RDS has implemented an ELD compliant system, there is no need for an exemption from the present rule requiring drivers who fail to meet the 100 air-mile radius exception as their record of duty status is automatically being recorded by the system and carrier,” Advocates said in its comment. “Moreover, the federal regulation currently allows drivers who need to complete a record of duty status not more than eight days within any 30-day period, to do so manually. It would appear that this limited burden could readily be met through the use of the Geotab system touted by the applicant.”

RDS drivers who stay within the 100 air-mile radius but may occasionally exceed the 12-hour limitation are exempt from having to complete a daily record of duty status at those times if, at all times, their hours of service data is recorded by the Geotab system, according to the FMCSA notice.



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