WASHINGTON — The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider its application for exemption from the electronic logging device rule. The exemption application was denied by the agency on July 17.
The SBTC says it is a network of over 15,000 transportation professionals, associations and industry suppliers who seek to promote and protect the small business players in the transportation industry.
The FMCSA said the SBTC had resubmitted its application for exemption from the ELD requirements for all motor carriers with fewer than 50 employees, including, but not limited to, one-person private and for-hire owner-operators of commercial motor vehicles used in interstate commerce.
SBTC said it believed that the exemption would not have any adverse impacts on operational safety as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the Hours of Service regulations as well as the requirements to maintain paper records of duty status (RODs).
In a Federal Register notice published Tuesday, the FMCSA is requesting public comment on SBTC’s application for reconsideration.
In its original application for exemption that was denied by FMCSA, the SBTC said the ELD rule is not a “safety regulation”’ per se as the FMCSA had concluded.
Rather, the SBTC said, the ELD rule 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.
The FMCSA said it received more than 1,900 comments on the SBTC’s original application for exemption, most of which favored granting the exemption, but the agency denied the application and listed these reasons for denial:
- Failing to provide the name of the individual or motor carrier that would be responsible for the use or operation of CMVs under the exemption
- Failing to provide an estimate of the total number of drivers and CMVs that would be operated under the terms and conditions of the exemption.
- Failing to explain how an equivalent level of safety would be achieved.
In its request for reconsideration, the FMCSA said the SBTC provided responses.
According to SBTC, the reason for not providing an estimate of the number of drivers and CMVs that would be operating under the exemption is that SBTC is a trade group, not a single carrier. The SBTC argued that a trade group would not know the number of employees eligible for the exemption.
The SBTC deferred that question to the agency because FMCSA is the custodian of MCS-150 industry data and the SBTC believes that it has identified the percentage of carriers that would be affected by the exemption but does not know a way to extrapolate the number of drivers from the estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. without deferring to FMCSA for that information.
To ensure an equivalent level of safety, the SBTC suggested a return to paper logs.
“Paper logs were deemed sufficient to ensure adequate levels of safety for generations, more than 80 years,” the SBTC said in the application for reconsideration. “And the FMCSA has already issued numerous exemptions that require carriers to revert to tracking their Hours of Service using paper logs in lieu of ELDs.”
The agency said the SBTC supported its argument with the belief that ELDs have caused reckless speeding and pose national security threats.
The SBTC said it was urging the FMCSA to look carefully at the unintended consequences of the ELD rule when deciding whether or not to grant the exemption. SBTC also suggested that FMCSA temporarily grant the exemption “if for no other reason than to press the pause button while the FMCSA studied these “unintended consequences and their adverse effects on safety. “We contend this would indeed achieve a greater level of overall safety than the current status quo.,” the SBTC said.
To submit comments online, go to www.regulations.gov and put the docket number FMCSA-2019-0239′ in the “Keyword”’ box, and click “Search.”’ When the new screen appears, click on “Comment Now!”’ button and type your comment into the text box in the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then click submit.
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.
SBTC to FMCSA: Reconsider denial of ELD exemption application for small carriersComment
To file a comment in support of the SBTC ELD Exemption Application (Round 2), click this link: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FMCSA-2019-0239-0001 A simple comment like “I support the SBTC’s ELD exemption request” is all you really need to say.