OMAHA, Neb. — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted a temporary exemption to Omaha, Nebraska-based Werner Enterprises on part of the agency’s hours-of-service (HOS) rules under 80 FR 78292 established Dec. 16, 2015. The exemption was finalized in a document published in the Federal Register July 7.
The exemption, valid from July 7, 2020 through July 7, 2021, applies to the requirement that specific information fields be included in electronic records of duty status (RODS) on drivers’ electronic logging devices (ELDs). Werner requested the exemption, which applies to five elements required in RODS files, because of incompatibility issues between Werner’s current ELD supplier and its new supplier, Platform Science. The exemption applies to each driver during the first eight days of the driver’s transition to the new ELD supplier, and includes the following:
- Co-driver information;
- Odometer elapsed: vehicle elapsed miles/kilometers in given ignition power on cycle;
- Engine hours elapsed: elapsed time of engine operation in the given ignition power on cycle;
- Engine hours total: total engine hours at time of event; and
- Odometer total (decimal): total at time of the event.
Under the terms of the exemption, these five elements will be omitted from Werner drivers’ RODS during the eight-day transition period; however, the information can be verified at the roadside or through an on-site investigation conducted at a Werner facility, according to the Federal Register document.
Werner, which operates a fleet of about 10,000 drivers and 8,000 power units, also notes that all other information required to determine a driver’s compliance or noncompliance with HOS rules will be available on the driver’s ELD.
“Paper logbooks can be lost, falsified, illegible, etc. We know, due to our extensive log audit system, which includes 100% real-time monitoring of hours-of-service records, that the Omnitracs hours of service records are accurate,” Werner’s application for exemption states. “Having the ability to upload this electronic data for the eight days preceding the transition to the new Platform Science system is a safer option for our drivers to prevent fatigue and helps roadside enforcement be assured that the information is accurate.”
FMCSA requested public comment on Werner’s exemption application in a Federal Register notice on April 13. Nineteen comments were received, six in favor and 12 opposed.
Supporters included American Trucking Associations (ATA), California Trucking Association, Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA), Florida Trucking Association, Nebraska Trucking Association and Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).
ATA noted in its comments that Werner’s application “merely presents a specific means to allow the interoperability of two ELD systems — not to exempt its drivers from the broader ELD requirements that ATA has long supported.”
CVTA commented that the association believes the exemption “poses no risk to highway safety.”
The opponents were Jesse Cole, Mark Rawn, Michael Groff, Larry Gump, Michael Glenn, George Thornton, David Battiest, Darrin Atkinson, Michael Crites, John Smith, John Haynes and Caelan Helsel.
Crites wrote, “[a]bsolutely no exemption should be granted to any carrier. Especially one that pushed for the ELD mandate. They need to be held responsible for not having their act together. If this was any other carrier they would be held liable. Many other outfits have done exactly what was required of them. This is a [multi-million] dollar company. They have no excuse for this.”
In the July 7 document, FMCSA said, “We have determined, as required by 49 U.S.C. 31315(b)(1) and the implementing regulations under 49 CFR part 381, that the exemption is likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained in the absence of the exemption.”
In case of an accident, as defined in 49 CFR 390.5, that involves a Werner driver operating under the exemption, Werner is required to notify FMCSA within five business days and provide all pertinent information.
To view the document and all details of the exemption on the Federal Register, click here.
Linda Garner-Bunch has been in publishing for more than 30 years. You name it, Linda has written about it. She has served as an editor for a group of national do-it-yourself publications and has coordinated the real estate section of Arkansas’ only statewide newspaper, in addition to working on a variety of niche publications ranging from bridal magazines to high-school sports previews and everything in between. She is also an experienced photographer and copy editor who enjoys telling the stories of the “Knights of the Highway,” as she calls our nation’s truck drivers.