- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) denied a request for "motor carriers considered to be a small trucking business" to be exempt from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) announced Tuesday.
- The OOIDA argued small companies which have "proven their ability to operate safely should not be subject to purchasing costly, unproven and uncertified devices," and be granted a five-year exemption.
- "We are puzzled and disappointed at the response from the agency," Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA, said in the press release. "For months, the FMCSA has been granting exemptions to other organizations, some not even actually in trucking, but relying on trucks for their business."
Now that the ELD mandate is law, the OOIDA has turned its focus to monitoring the law's implementation and the effects of its members.
In that role, the association is shedding light on the breadth of problems that can arise for truckers seeking compliance.
Because many of the ELDs on the agency's list are self-certified, truckers must buy-and-try devices and hope for compliance, adding expenses "small-business motor carriers can ill afford," according to the OOIDA.
The OOIDA pulled all the stops to make a case for these small trucking companies. It even argued providing an exemption was one way to make sure owner operators — the association represents 160,000 members — stay on the market. That's why it limited its exemption request to drivers with proven safety records.
Its petition for a compliance waiver to small trucking businesses was intended to buy time as ELD manufacturers are "fully vetted by the agency," it argued. Otherwise, companies looking to make a one-time, secure investment may end up paying more than the costs originally considered to stay compliant.
"Being a small company with 2 trucks this has been an expensive burden on us," Gary Harrison wrote in public comments regarding the exemption request. "We have now been on our third brand of ELD to stay compliant ... One actually sold us the systems then closed operations and would not refund anything (ONE20 F-ELD) should be on the revoked list!"
The device in question is now on the revoked list. Harrison's comment was posted to the online docket on June 11, 2018.
"If the mandate forces these skilled drivers out of the industry, they will be replaced with new, inexperienced drivers that are far more likely to crash which will not achieve an equal or higher level of safety" by the ELD mandate, the OOIDA wrote in its exemption request.
To date, there are no clear indicators that the turnover rate has shifted as a direct result of the ELD mandate.
Some trucking companies have reportedly been raising pay to avert aggravating it and mitigate the industry's capacity shortage. With that same goal in mind, the FMCSA granted exemptions to agriculture haulers in order to ease implementation issues that may limit the nation's food supply.
"There are several bills in Congress which is a clear indication they recognize the mandate was not ready for prime time," said Norita Taylor, director of public relations for the OOIDA, in an e-mail to Supply Chain Dive.