Eight months ago the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association put in a request to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for small-business truckers to be exempt from the federal regulation requiring trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices. On July 3 that request was denied.
“We are puzzled and disappointed at the response from the agency.,"said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. "For months, the FMCSA has been granting exemptions to other organizations, some not even actually in trucking, but relying on trucks for their businesses,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA.
The Association said in its request that small-business truckers that have already proven their ability to operate safely should not be subject to purchasing costly, unproven and uncertified devices. OOIDA had requested a 5-year exemption for motor carriers classified as small businesses according to the Small Business Administration and with a proven safety history with no attributable at-fault crashes, and who do not have a Carrier Safety Rating of “Unsatisfactory.”
“Congress is taking notice that the mandate was not ready for prime time,” said Spencer. "There are numerous legislative proposals that would provide relief from the mandate and we’re hoping Congress moves forward with them.”
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 ELD’s listed on their website fulfill regulatory requirements in the mandate.
“Most small-business motor carriers can ill afford to make these purchases only to learn later that the ELD is non-compliant. Yet they are required to do so or risk violation,” said Spencer.
A five-year exemption 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 part of a diverse coalition of industry representatives that has spoken out against the mandate.
The ELD mandate is estimated to cost impacted stakeholders more than $2 billion annually, making it one of the most expensive federal transportation rulemakings over the last decade. It is a massive unfunded mandate that provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate.
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 non-driving 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.