WASHINGTON — The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) says the electronic logging device mandate will be a big burden on small trucking companies and in an
"emergency petition” has asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to grant an exemption for all motor carriers with fewer than 50 employees, to reconsider the mandate insofar as the First Amendment affords all drivers a right to commercial free speech and to grant a stay on the December 18 effective date until the secretary rules on the SBTC petition.
The SBTC says the mandate to replace paper logbooks does not take into account the impact on the smallest businesses in the transportation industry and the free commercial speech rights of all motor carriers and independent drivers.
The organization also took issue with the analysis the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration used in writing the Final Rule on ELDs, saying it essentially ignored and disregarded the impact on the smallest of industry players in an overbroad assessment that places one-man interstate owner-operators into the same category as other “small businesses” within the trucking industry.
The coalition said it contends the FMCSA is misguided in its interpretation here in a few respects.
First, the SBTC said, the ELD rule is not a “safety regulation” per se as the FMCSA has concluded. Rather, it is a mechanism intended to enforce a safety regulation by regulating the manner in which a driver records and communicates his compliance.
“That is, it is merely a tool to determine compliance with an existing rule that regulates over-the-road drivers’ driving and on-duty time, namely the actual safety regulation: the Hours of Service regulations,” the coalition said in a letter to Chao.
Second, as a matter of strict construction, MAP-21, which mandated ELDs, merely calls for commercial motor vehicles to be “equipped” with ELDs, the STBC said, adding that it did not appear to require the Transportation Secretary to mandate the replacement of paper logs with ELDs or force the use of ELDs.
Third, the SBTC said, the regulation of the manner in which a motor carrier or independent driver tracks and communicates its compliance with the Hours of Service regulations is a matter of commercial free speech.
“Historically, drivers have articulated their compliance by using paper logbooks called records of duty status (RODS),” the letter said. “As indicated by our poll results, many drivers, including older drivers and one-man owner-operators, simply do not wish to use new technology to track and communicate evidence of their compliance with safety regulations. Motor carriers responsible for their own safety management practices and controls should have the right to exercise commercial free speech in determining, as a matter of company policy, whether their drivers are to use ELDs, paper logs, or both. One-man operators who drive independent of a carrier organization should have the right to make this choice themselves.”
The House Small Business Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the impact of federal regulations on small trucking companies. Its title was “Highway to Headache: Federal Regulations on the Small Trucking Industry.” Among the witnesses were Monte Wiederhold, president of B.L. Reever Transport of Maumee, Ohio, who is testifying on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; and Marty DiGiacomo, owner of True Blue Transportation of Harrisburg, North Carolina, who testified on behalf of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies.
To read the complete letter sent to Chao, click here. http://smalltransportation.org/files/125976669.pdf