The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said yesterday it had asked federal regulators to grant five-year exemptions to a swath of drivers from regulations requiring that, by Dec. 18, virtually all trucks be equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs).
OOIDA, which represents about 150,000 independent drivers and small fleets, wants the exemption to apply to carriers classified as "small businesses" according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), that have no record of attributable at-fault crashes, and that do not have a carrier safety rating of "unsatisfactory" under federal regulations. The trade group said it doesn't know how many drivers would be eligible for exemptions under its criteria.
OOIDA has fought the ELD rules tooth and nail ever since it was unveiled two years ago. It has argued that the rules do not improve highway safety, violate 4th Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure because they require the installation of a warrantless tracking device, would increase carrier costs, and deploy equipment that has been unproven and uncertified. However, the group has been thwarted in the courts, and it seems unlikely the Trump Administration will act to delay the rules' implementation date at the eleventh hour.
OOIDA said a five-year exemption period would enable the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which wrote the rules, to fully vet ELD vendors to determine if their equipment complies with federal regulations. Currently, all of the 193 ELD-related devices shown on FMCSA's website have been self-certified, and have not been validated by the agency or by a third-party testing program, OOIDA said.
"Most small-business motor carriers can ill afford to make these purchases only to learn later that the ELD is non-compliant. Yet they are required to do so or risk violation," said Todd Spencer, OOIDA's executive vice president. OOIDA also raised concerns about the equipment's vulnerability to hackers and other forms of cyber-mischief.
The rule exempts operators of trucks built before the year 2000, drivers operating not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period, and drivers with commercial drivers licenses (CDL) operating in interstate commerce within 100 air miles of their work location, among other criteria. Last month, however, FMCSA granted five-year exemptions to Atlanta-based UPS Inc., the nation's largest transportation company, covering specific types of company operations. YRC Worldwide Inc., a less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier based in Overland Park, Kan., has also requested an exemption covering similar scenarios to UPS. Monday, FMCSA said it had granted a 90-day ELD exemption to haulers of agricultural commodities.
In a related development, the FMCSA said that drivers found without ELDs between Dec. 18, 2017, and April 1, 2018, would not have the violation count against their Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores. CSA measures a driver's safety performance across a variety of metrics, and infractions affecting a CSA score play a critical role in determining a driver's marketability, as well as the cost of a carrier's insurance coverage.
FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), the latter being a group of U.S. state and provincial Canadian law-enforcement officials charged with roadside safety inspections, agreed to the policy, according to a published report. FMCSA and CVSA have already said they would not place a vehicle and driver out of service between Dec. 18 and April 1 if the truck isn't equipped with an ELD or some type of electronic on-board logging device. Both actions are part of an effort to make the transition to the controversial mandate as easy as possible.
Estimates vary widely, but it is believed that as many as 40 percent of all drivers, the vast majority being owner-operators, are currently not compliant with the regulations.