The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has submitted an exemption request to an upcoming federal regulation requiring trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices.
“Small-business truckers that have already proven their ability to operate safely should not be subject to purchasing costly, unproven and uncertified devices,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said in a letter requesting the exemption.
The request was submitted to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration on Tuesday.
OOIDA has requested at least a five-year exemption for motor carriers classified as small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration, and have a proven safety history with no attributable at-fault crashes and who do not have a Carrier Safety Rating of “unsatisfactory.”
Among the numerous concerns cited in the request, the issue of self-certification of vendors is one of the biggest issues brought up by OOIDA.
FMCSA has stated that they do not know if the self-certified ELDs listed on their website fulfill regulatory requirements in the mandate. At present, none of the 193 devices listed have been validated by the agency or any unbiased third-party testing program.
“Most small-business motor carriers can ill afford to make these purchases only to learn later that the ELD is noncompliant. Yet they are required to do so or risk violation,” Spencer stated.
OOIDA’s comments also were critical 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.
As the Dec. 18 deadline to implement the ELD mandate nears, FMCSA announced another round of “transition guidance” on Monday. Among the announcements was a 90-day temporary waiver for agricultural commodities haulers. The agency also announced it will open a public comment period before issuing “formal guidance” on the existing hours-of-service exemption for the agricultural industry and on the “personal conveyance” provision for all truckers.
In addition to the guidance, FMCSA reviewed the soft enforcement period from Dec. 18 to April 1. During that time drivers without ELDs will not be put out of service and violations will not count against them in the Compliance Safety Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System. They could however be ticketed, as that is a state-by-state issue.
The five-year exemption requested by OOIDA would provide necessary time for ELD manufacturers to be fully vetted by the agency, 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.
OOIDA is a member of a diverse coalition of industry representatives that has spoken out against the mandate. The Association supports a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, that would delay the ELD mandate for two years. Babin’s bill, H.R.3282, the ELD Extension Act of 2017, would extend the current implementation date to December 2019.
Commercial truck drivers are restricted to a limited number of working and driving hours under current regulations. The FMCSA’s mandate requires that truck drivers use ELDs to track their driving and nondriving activities even though such devices can only track movement and location of a vehicle. OOIDA contends that requiring electronic monitoring devices on commercial vehicles does not advance safety since they are no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording compliance with hours-of-service regulations.
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