FMCSA posts waivers for some ELD exemptions, extends comment period for others

January 19, 2018

Land Line Staff

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While the clock continues to tick down on the public’s opportunity to comment on some ELD exemption requests, federal regulators have added more time for the public to weigh in on other matters related to last month’s mandate.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it would grant an additional 30 days for public comments on proposed regulatory guidance concerning transportation of agricultural commodities. The agency also is granting an additional 30 days for public comment on proposed guidance concerning the use of commercial vehicles for personal conveyance. The deadline to submit comments on either proposal is Feb. 20.

The agency is seeking to clarify its guidance for motor carriers and state enforcement officials, noting that existing exemption language “is susceptible to multiple interpretations.” You can comment on the proposal here.

The proposed regulatory guidance would clarify the exception with regard to the following issues:

  • Drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity, as defined in 49 CFR 395.2, or returning from a delivery point.
  • Drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity.

The request for comment notes that several agricultural transporters have requested guidance on how the exception would apply if a driver were to pick up partial loads at two or more locations – specifically, whether the 150 air-mile radius begins at the first pick-up location or the last. The agency’s previous informal guidance has been that the air-mile radius is based on the first pickup, with additional pickups not extending the radius.

In addition, the agency is asking for public comment on whether grain elevators and/or livestock sale barns should be considered a “source” of agricultural commodities, and how the exception should apply when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip.
If finalized, the proposed guidance would last up to five years.

The deadline for OOIDA’s request for an ELD exemption for small trucking businesses is Feb. 1. The Association issued a Call to Action for its members to file comments in support of the request.

OOIDA’s exemption request asks the agency to allow small trucking carriers that do not have an “unsatisfactory” safety rating and can document a proven history of safety performance without attributable at-fault crashes to be allowed to continue to use paper logs rather than ELDs to record hours of service.

“The exemption would provide owner-operators relief from burdensome device installation and maintenance costs as well as the unresolved enforcement, cybersecurity, and privacy concerns associated with the mandate,” OOIDA stated in its Call to Action email sent to members on Jan. 3. “This is the time to let FMCSA know how the mandate is currently impacting you and why ELDs are not a one-size-fits-all solution.”

The Call to Action notes that the agency “must take public feedback into account as they determine whether or not to grant the exemption” and advises those submitting comments to “provide specific details and reasoning about how the exemption would improve the safety and efficiency of your business.

Click here to submit comments directly to docket No. FMCSA-2017-0356.

The agency also formally published a five-year exemption from electronic logs for the Motion Pictures Association of America, and two 90-day waivers for the Truck Renting and Leasing Association and Old Dominion Freight Lines. The waiver for TRALA applies to short-term truck rentals not exceeding 30 days. The waiver for Old Dominion also applies to other similarly-situated motor carriers who are having issues integrating PeopleNet’s ELD software into fleet management systems.

Comments on the personal conveyance guidance can be submitted here.

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