Comments on OOIDA’s ELD exemption reflect dissatisfaction with mandate

January 15, 2018

Land Line Staff


Nearly 1,800 comments have been filed on a request from the electronic logging device mandate that would exempt certain small trucking carriers from compliance with the rule.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed the exemption request in November. The Association is asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 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 requests asks for a five-year exemption.

Many of the public comments on file with the agency are in support of OOIDA’s request. A majority focused on some variation of the theme that the “one size fits all” approach of the mandate is causing havoc in the industry.

“FMSCA should consider allowing small-business motor carriers to maintain their current practices that have resulted in a proven safety record,” wrote William Franklin, an owner-operator from Illinois. “ELDs are not a one-size-fits-all solution to improve the safety and efficiency of all business.”

One commenter, Marlay Shollenberger, said the mandate helps large companies that can absorb the costs of the devices.

“Our small business has never had any FMSCA violations, hires only the safest drivers, and takes excellent care of our equipment. In the meantime, large companies will hire any warm body they can stick behind a steering wheel who goes out and causes all kinds of problems, and then as a whole we get punished for it,” Shollenberger wrote.

OOIDA issued a Call to Action earlier in January, asking all drivers to file comments in support of the request. The deadline to file comments is Feb. 1.

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.

“FMCSA has already granted exemptions and waivers for large carriers such as UPS, the ag industry, and rental truck fleets – they should also acknowledge small-business carriers who have shown they can drive safely without ELDs.”

Click here to submit comments directly to docket No. FMCSA-2017-0356.
Click here to read the formal application for exemption notice.

OOIDA has long been skeptical of the purported safety benefits of the devices. The Association notes that many large motor carriers have been using ELDs for years, but a 2011 study done by FMCSA found little research supporting the effectiveness of electronic logging devices in reducing crashes.

The five-year exemption requested by OOIDA would provide necessary time for the agency to fully vet electronic logging devices, 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.

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 nondriving 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 increase safety since they are no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording compliance with hours-of-service regulations.

To date, the agency has received at least 18 exemption applications for the ELD mandate.