With the new electronic logging device mandate set to take effect in less than four weeks, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue a temporary but lengthy exemption to the new safety rule for “small-business truckers.”
The petition seeks an exemption from the ELD rule of “no less than five years” (and subject to renewal upon application) for any carrier considered to be “a small transportation trucking business” as defined by the Small Business Administration and “can document a proven history of safety performance with no attributable at-fault crashes” and that do not have a Carrier Safety Rating of “Unsatisfactory.”
OOIDA further stated in its request that the exemption would “not have any adverse impacts on operational safety, as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the HOS regulations… as well as the requirements to maintain a paper record of duty status… The exemption would also allow small-business motor carriers to maintain their current practices that have resulted in a proven safety record.”
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, got to the crux of why the group is seeking the exemption in a statement, saying that “Small-business truckers that have already proven their ability to operate safely should not be subject to purchasing costly, unproven and uncertified [electronic logging] devices.”
In the request, filed with FMCSA on Nov. 21, the self-certification of ELD vendors is discussed as a key issue for OOIA: “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 non-compliant,” stated Spencer. “Yet they are required to do so or risk violation.”
OOIDA is also concerned about cybersecurity threat that may be posed by ELDs: “At two recent cybersecurity conferences, a leading research firm released a summary of their findings after analyzing three ELD providers currently listed as self-certified on the FMCSA website. Their general conclusion was that all three devices did very little, if anything at all, to follow best practices and were open to serious compromise.”
It is OOIDA’s contention that 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 vehicle’s electronic control module or be hacked.”
OOIDA also continues to support a bill introduced in the House back in July by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) that would delay the ELD mandate for two years. H.R.3282, the ELD Extension Act of 2017, would extend the current implementation date from December 2017 to December 2019. The bill has been referred for consideration by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
On Nov. 20, FMCSA revealed it will issue a truly temporary ELD waiver of 90 days, but it will be limited to haulers of agricultural commodities operating within a specified radius. That waiver is slated to be formally announced in early December.
For everyone else, the ELD mandate remains clearly on track to become law on Dec. 18, less than 30 days from this writing.
Editor's note: Click here for ongoing coverage of the ELD mandate by the editors of HDT.