OOIDA’s ELD exemption request meets strong criticism in joint comments by ATA, Safety Advocates, and the CVSA

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) recently filed an application with the FMCSA to grant a five-year ELD mandate exemption for crash-free small business carriers.

The agency published OOIDA’s application for public comments where it got slammed by several groups including the Trucking Alliance, the CVSA, and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The joint comments complain that the application by OOIDA is just an attempt to bypass Congress and courts and delay the ELD mandate compliance further.

Here are some of the points that the opposition raised against the exemption request.

An “overly broad” request

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), a fleet that makes $27.5 million or less than that in gross annual receipts is considered a small business.

In their comments, authorities maintained that since 99 percent of all operating fleets are small fleets (that OOIDA itself acknowledged in the application), the requested exemption is a smokescreen to delay compliance of all trucking companies.

One of the comments said that “OOIDA, as an organization, asserts that it represents 160,000 members who operate 240,000 heavy trucks, yet the application seeks exemption for a far larger class of motor carriers, i.e., all those considered to be a small transportation trucking business as defined by the SBA regulations.”

Road safety

The comments also stated that the exemption request by OOIDA is a stunt to hinder the safety progress on roads which has been made possible with the help of electronic logging devices.

The President of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Cathy Chase, says:

“More than 4,300 people were killed in large truck crashes in 2016, representing a 5% increase from the previous year and the highest fatality number since 2007. Especially with truck crash deaths rising, this minimal, proven, effective technology should be in use in every truck immediately. OOIDA’s exemption request is just a smokescreen that attempts to re-litigate a closed case and undermine the effectiveness of the ELD rule.”

The Managing Director of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, Lane Kidd, also supported electronic logging devices for road safety and said:

“When it comes down to whether this or that segment of the trucking industry should abide by rules that can reduce large truck crashes, the government should have one standard and that is ‘a truck is a truck is a truck.’”

He added, “We shouldn’t allow outliers to skirt public safety regulations. Trucking companies have a moral and ethical responsibility to keep the public’s trust, that they are operating as safely as possible, and ELDs are a huge step in achieving that objective.”

The FMCSA estimates that electronic logging devices would prevent approximately 1,800 crashes and save 26 lives every year. In their comments, the organizations also acknowledged that electronic logging devices are “a known remedy for the well-documented public safety hazards of driver fatigue.”

Note that the National Transportation Safety Board has stated several times that driver fatigue is a significant contributor to truck crashes.

An additional burden

In the exemption application, OOIDA requested a 5-year exemption for crash-free small businesses.

Commentators criticized this proposal because checking for records of such a big number of fleets would be an additional burden on the agency.

“The FMCSA would have to determine the status of nearly 500,000 active motor carriers before granting the exemption, and then determine whether the exemption for each small motor carrier would have to be revoked should it be involved in an at-fault crash during the five-year pendency of the exemption,” said one of the comments.

It added, “This would require the agency to screen all motor carriers before granting the exemption in order to determine which motor carriers are in the exempt class. The agency would then have to identify for state law enforcement officials which motor carriers are legally exempt from ELD installation. Moreover, it would also impose a continuing burden on the agency to constantly monitor and update the entire small motor carrier fleet on a regular basis.”

The Executive Director of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), Collin Mooney also opposed the exemption request by OOIDA. He said, “installing and using electronic logging devices is not a new development and [the] industry has had more than enough time to prepare for implementation.”

Speaking about the cost of an ELD, he said, “The cost of an ELD is simply part of the cost of doing business and compliance for those in the trucking and bus industries: vehicles have to be maintained, drivers have to be trained, and ELDs have to be installed.”

Opposing the view of many — that not all carriers violate hours-of-service — Mooney reminded that “HOS violations continue to be some of the most frequently found violations by enforcement officials [during] roadside safety inspections.”

In this regard, the CVSA’s Roadcheck 2017 results are worth mentioning. In more than 62,000 inspections conducted by inspectors last year from June 6 to June 8, driver-related violations were as follows:

  •   Hours-of-service violations were 32.3%
  •   Wrong class license stood at 14.9%
  •   Falsified log books were 11.3%

“What this tells us is that too many drivers and motor carriers either don’t understand the hours-of-service rules or are intentionally violating them – and, as a result, undermining safety. Deployment of ELDs will help address both of these issues. For those drivers and motor carriers who don’t understand the intricacies of HOS requirements and for those who make the occasional mistake when using their paper log, ELDs will remove the guesswork and the risk of human error. This will result in better compliance and fewer violations,” Mooney added.

He also said that the use of electronic logging devices “will make it easier for inspectors to identify violations and take unsafe, non-compliant carriers and drivers off the roadways. The devices will also save time for both inspectors and drivers, leading to more efficiency.”

The comments also highlighted some advantages of using electronic logging devices.

“These simple devices create an objective record of a driver’s on-duty time, facilitate compliance with hours of service rules, and simplify enforcement efforts by law enforcement officials.”

In the end, the comment concluded:

“OOIDA’s exemption application, as well as the seven others submitted to the FMCSA, are largely based on debunked claims that have been previously rejected during the legislative and rulemaking processes. ELDs are a commonsense, lifesaving technology and any attempts to bow to special interests and delay full enforcement of the ELD rule would only make our roads more dangerous.”

Let’s see whether the FMCSA grants the ELD mandate exemption to crash-free small carriers. However, it is extremely unlikely to happen.

Instead of speculating, non-exempt carriers should focus on installing DOT-compliant electronic logging devices. Use our free ELD price comparison and ELD features comparison tools to find a reliable and FMCSA-compliant ELD.

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