The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to announce on Oct. 11 that it will grant an exemption from being required to use an electronic logging device to “all drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles rented for eight days or less, regardless of reason.”
The exemption will apply to the ELD mandate that kicks in on Dec. 18 — just 10 weeks away.
FMCSA made it clear that drivers who will operate under this short-term rental exemption will remain subject to the standard hours-of-service limits and so will have to maintain a paper record of duty status (RODS) if required, and maintain a copy of the rental agreement on the vehicle.
The exemption results from a petition filed with the agency by the Truck Renting and Leasing Association.
FMCSA pointed out that TRALA, in its petition, was “concerned about the unintended technical and operational consequences that will unfairly and adversely affect short-term rental vehicles,” given that it will be unlikely that most of the ELDs used by these drivers will able to communicate properly with a rental company’s telematics platform.
“TRALA states that while FMCSA recognized during the rulemaking process these issues associated with a lack of interoperability among ELD systems, and required certain technical specifications in the final rule, the agency stopped short of requiring full interoperability among ELDs," FMCSA stated in its notice to be published in the Federal Register.
In an Oct. 10 news release on the petition being granted, TRALA emphasized that the exemption will not apply to drivers of rental vehicles operating for longer than eight days. They will still have to comply with the new ELD rule.
TRALA President and CEO Jake Jacoby met with FMCSA on Oct. 5 at their request to explain the agency's decision. “While TRALA had the support of all its members, the vast majority of the trucking industry, as well as the diverse customer base that utilizes rental trucks, the agency explained that they had to couple that with a strong desire to make sure the mandate could be enforceable and to not deviate too much from a congressional directive,” the association advised.
TRALA’s petition had actually sought an exemption that would cover the drivers of trucks rented for 30 days or less. The association said that while it “regrets” that FMSCA went with only an eight-day exemption, it expects the shorter period to be allowed still “will help alleviate some problems that would have existed had TRALA's petition been denied outright – especially for addressing breakdowns.”
The key problems TRALA had envisioned might result from the ELD rule are “administrative and logistical in nature, which FMCSA has acknowledged. During the meeting on Oct. 5, FMCSA told TRALA that the ELD mandate would allow drivers to combine HOS records from their own ELD platform with the one provided by a truck rental company even if they are different systems. Unfortunately, this likely would result in every driver having to manually log his/her HOS information by combining two systems.
"This could cause significant loss of time and would require drivers to learn a whole new ELD operating system all to fulfill HOS reporting for short-tern rentals,” the association continued.
TRALA added that it "believes these hurdles fly in the face of the Trump administration's goal of having fewer harmful regulations and to have those regulations that are implemented be as efficient as possible.”