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FMSCA Denies Owner-Operator’s Request for Exemption from Electronic Logging Device Mandate; Focus Shifts to Modifying Hours of Service Rules

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), one of the industry’s most vocal opponents of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, has had its request for an exemption from the mandate denied, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) confirmed in early July. The request, submitted in November of 2017, requested a five-year exemption for motor carriers that were considered small businesses and had a proven safety history with no attributable at-fault crashes and a Federal Carrier Safety Rating higher than “unsatisfactory.” OOIDA argued that these drivers had already proven that they were safe drivers and should not have to incur the expense of purchasing an ELD.

While no public notice of the denial has been published by the FMCSA, one is expected in the next few weeks. The ELD mandate, which requires all commercial drivers previously required to fill out paper logs to now use an electronic logging device, went into effect in December of 2017 and has been fully enforced since April of 2018.

OOIDA’s continuous opposition to the ELD mandate and attempts to avoid enforcement of the mandate on its members have been denied by the Supreme Court, Congress, and now the FMCSA. Additionally, the FMCSA has now denied the vast majority of exemption requests, with livestock haulers receiving some of the very few exemptions handed out by the agency.

The American Trucking Association (ATA), which has been a proponent of the ELD mandate since its inception, has applauded the FMCSA’s decision and now hopes that the conversation can shift to common sense changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules, the rules that the ELD mandate seeks to enforce. The ATA has suggested that while the ELD mandate has kept highways safer and carriers more honest, that it has also highlighted the need to reform HOS rules.

Recently, lawmakers have taken note of these issues. Specifically, transportation policymakers Reps. Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman, both Arkansas Republicans, as well as Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, are sponsoring a bill referred to as the Honest Operators Undertaking Road Safety Act (HOURS). The bipartisan effort, introduced on June 21, 2018, has the potential to relax HOS rules throughout the industry. Though it is still in the beginning stages, we will be sure to provide any updates if it gains momentum in either branch of Congress.

If you have questions about possible exemptions to the ELD mandate, HOS rules, or any regulations related to your trucking business, please contact Kevin Coghill at (804) 377-1273 or kcoghill@setlifflaw.com.

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