Lawmakers ask FMCSA's Martinez to grant OOIDA's ELD exemption request

By Land Line staff | 5/16/2018

A trio of Republican congressmen sent a letter to the leader of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration calling for his support for ELD exemption for small-business trucking firms.

In a May 8 letter, U.S. Reps. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont.; Steve King, R-Iowa; and Brian Babin, R-Texas, asked FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez to grant an exemption request filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The request seeks relief from the ELD mandate on behalf of small business truckers with a proven safety record.

The legislators say the ELD mandate is causing economic havoc on small-business trucking, prompting rate increases for freight and adding burdensome costs to the bottom line of trucking companies. All without providing much in the way of purported safety benefits. They say they believe OOIDA’s exemption petition “appropriately mitigates these problems.”

“OOIDA’s petition is the most extensive solution for resolving these concerns regarding the ELD mandate,” the letter states. “When granted, this petition will help farmers and ranchers who operate their own trucks and are concerned about animal health and welfare. The burden of the ELD mandate falls disproportionately on our rural communities, since they are heavily dependent on agriculture.”

OOIDA’s petition requests that motor carriers considered to be a “small transportation trucking business” who do not have a Carrier Safety Rating of “unsatisfactory” and can document a proven history of safety performance with no attributable at-fault crashes should be exempted from the ELD requirement. The Small Business Administration classifies a small transportation trucking business as earning $27.5 million or less in average annual receipts. The Association is asking FMCSA for a five-year exemption from electronic logs. Several trade and industry groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business, threw their support behind OOIDA’s request during the public comment period earlier this year.

The letter also points out that the agency has already granted several ELD exemption requests to date and that many of those exemptions “are consistent with OOIDA’s petition.” The letter also states that the exemption request “fits the Trump administration’s objective of providing relief from costly and burdensome federal regulations on American businesses.”

In addition, “Granting OOIDA’s request would further illustrate the administration’s commitment to delivering regulatory relief to help sustain economic growth,” the letter states.

OOIDA has long been skeptical of the purported safety benefits of the devices. The Association notes that many large motor carriers have been using ELDs for years, but a 2011 study done by FMCSA found little research supporting the effectiveness of electronic logging devices in reducing crashes.

The five-year exemption requested by OOIDA would provide necessary time for the agency to fully vet electronic logging devices, which would alleviate small-business motor carriers from learning that they purchased a device that could damage their vehicles’ electronic control module or be hacked.

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