WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied an application filed a little more than a year ago from the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) for an exemption from the electronic logging device (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.
The FMCSA said it had analyzed the exemption application and public comments, and had determined that it cannot ensure that granting for the requested exemption would achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption.
The SBTC is a non-profit trade organization with more than 8,000 members.
SBTC said in its application that it “represents, promotes, and protects the interest of small businesses in the transportation industry.”
The coalition said in its application that the exemption would not have any adverse impacts on operational safety as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the HOS regulations as well as the requirements to maintain a paper record of duty statue (RODs).
The SBTC argues that the requested exemption would allow motor carriers with fewer than 50 employees to maintain their current practices that have resulted in a proven safety record.
After the FMCSA published the SBTC application, it received over 1,900 comments. The agency estimated that over 95% of the comments favored the exemption while more than 4% were opposed.
The FMCSA said it denied that application for exemption because the SBTC application does not meet the regulatory standards for an exemption, the SBTC failed to provide “the name of the individual or motor carrier that would be responsible for the use or operation of CMVs” under the exemption, did not provide the name of a single motor carrier and failed to provide an estimate of the total number of drivers and CMVs that would be operated under the terms and conditions of the exemption.
Instead, in its printed denial, the FMCSA noted the SBTC application said “we defer to FMCSA to determine the total number of drivers and CMVs that would be operated under the exemption.”
The agency said SBTC failed to explain how it would ensure that someone could achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained by complying with the regulation.
In a prepared statement, the SBTC it had read the FMCSA’s and despite what the agency said in its denial, the SBTC met its obligation to show countermeasures, namely a return to paper logs.
“If paper logs were sufficient to ensure adequate levels of safety for 80 years, and they are currently sufficient for all the carriers operating under other FMCSA ELD exemptions, there is no reason to believe they would not be sufficient for the carriers that would operate under our requested exemption,” the statement said. “Notwithstanding this, the FMCSA is misguided in relying on a statute that pertains to individual drivers’ hearing and vision type applications for exemption. Class exemptions are not the same as individual exemptions.”
The SBTC said FMCSA’s decision failed to address its own statutory obligations to show the coalition is wrong when it asserted that the ELD rule is not necessary to carry out the transportation policy, is not needed to protect shippers from the abuse of market power or that the transaction or service is of limited scope, and that the exemption is in the public interest.
We have repeatedly asserted that ELDs have caused excessive speeding, which results in far more deaths ELDs would ever save by combating fatigue,” the SBTC response said.
The SBTC said it found the FMCSA’s handling of its ELD exemption application… “from start to finish… totally and absolutely corrupt in each and every respect.”