The FMCSA Approves Two ELD Mandate Exemptions
The FMCSA Approves Two ELD Mandate Exemptions

Two UPS exemption requests have been approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The exemptions will be valid from October 20, 2017, to October 20, 2022, and will now affect all motor carriers — not just the UPS.

Taking into consideration how close the industry is to the ELD’s implementation date — the mandate takes effect on December 18, 2017 — the two exemptions granted by the FMCSA can prove to be helpful to carriers who are transitioning to electronic logging devices (ELDs).

The Exemption Requests Made by UPS to the FMCSA

While the FMCSA ended up approving two exemption requests, it’s worth noting that UPS sent four requests in total.

Following are the exemptions that UPS requested:

  •   For the FMCSA to allow UPS an alternative ELD phase-in method for their trucks with compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs).
  •   For UPS to be exempted from the requirement where ELDs should automatically record data elements during a duty-status change when truck drivers aren’t in their vehicles.
  •   To allow UPS to configure their ELDs to have a special driving mode for yard moves that don’t require drivers to enter the “Yard Move” status repeatedly.
  •   For the FMCSA to allow ELDs on UPS vehicles to be annotated with “on property—other” when operated by their wash and fuel employees (or other non-drivers) for less than a mile within UPS grounds.

Approved Exemption Requests

The first exemption approved by the FMCSA is about drivers changing their vehicle’s duty status even when away from their vehicles.

The other exemption was about UPS being able to configure their ELDs for a special driving mode to avoid having to enter the “Yard Move” status multiple times.

Let’s look into the specifics of these two exemptions.

1. Recording of Data Elements When Drivers Are Away from Their Vehicles

According to the ELD mandate, logging devices are required to track several data elements automatically, such as:

  •   Time
  •   Date
  •   The Commercial Motor Vehicle’s (CMV) graphic location and information
  •   Vehicle miles
  •   Engine hours
  •   Vehicle identification data
  •   The user’s or the driver’s authenticated data
  •   The carrier’s identification data

In addition to these data elements, ELDs are also meant to record events, such as:

1) a driver specifies a change of duty status under section 395.24(b) (see section 395.26(c)) and,

2) when authorized users log into or out of an ELD (see section 395.26(g)).

UPS requested for an exemption because most of its employees are under a bargaining unit agreement where, for the most part, their drivers are paid by the hour.

Most UPS drivers clock in using electronic devices while still in the dispatch building. Once logged in, that’s when they start walking towards the vehicle to inspect it before driving. A similar situation often arises towards the end of a workday. UPS drivers often step out of their vehicles to a UPS dispatch office first, then clock out while still in the office.

The carrier’s drivers also conduct several activities outside of their vehicles like training, attending safety meetings, and doing work within the facility.

According to UPS, in a normal UPS location, their drivers would spend about 24 minutes on average before entering their vehicles and another 22 minutes after exiting their vehicles.

In a lot of cases, the vehicle that a driver was using, or will be using, will be operated by another employee while the driver is still on duty for UPS.

This being the case, UPS cannot comply with the ELD rule’s requirement, where an ELD should record a vehicle’s data when the driver logs in or out, and their employees’ bargaining contract at the same time.

The FMCSA approved the exemption request since it found that, “it is not practicable for the ELD to automatically record the data elements required by section 395.26(c) and section 395.26(g), as the ELD is not synchronized with the engine’s ECM at that point.”

The agency also added, “In instances where a driver using a portable, driver-based ELD logs in/logs out or changes duty status away from the vehicle and without the vehicle powered, the driver will simply annotate the ELD record to indicate the appropriate duty status in accordance with section 395.30.”

2. A Special Driving Mode for Yard Moves

According to section 395.28(a) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), carriers are allowed to configure their ELDs to enable drivers to indicate that they’re operating their CMVs under certain special driving categories, such as authorized personal use and yard moves.

Section 395.28(a)(2) requires drivers to choose the appropriate special driving category on the ELD before driving and to deselect the category once the status ends.

In addition, section 4.3.2.2.2(e) of Appendix A to Subpart B of part 395 requires drivers to reset their yard-move status to none if the CMV or the ELD goes through a power-off cycle.

UPS requested the FMCSA to allow them to use a special driving mode for yard moves so their drivers won’t have to enter the “Yard Move” status repeatedly.

UPS’s feeder drivers move about 10 loads per hour within their yard. Since UPS’s security measure/practice requires their drivers to remove their keys each time they exit the vehicle, that means their drivers would have to do 20 manual changes per hour.

In such a scenario, the amount of time their drivers would spend just entering the manual changes can prove to be costly for the carrier.

Based on the company’s estimate, a single button push — which takes about 0.35 seconds — can amount to $460,000 worth of expenses, yearly.

UPS’s request for exemption included proposals that would ascertain their ELDs would switch to the “Yard Move” status from “Driving.”

These are UPS’s proposed controls:

  •   The driver inputs the “driving” mode
  •   The truck’s speed surpasses 20 mph
  •   The vehicle exits the geo-fenced UPS yard

The FMCSA approved UPS’s exemption request because it believes that doing so “will achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level that would be obtained under the regulation.”

Cancelling the Exemptions

While the exemptions are meant to last for 5 years, the FMCSA stated they could cancel the exemptions earlier if:

  1.   Truckers fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemptions.
  2.   The exemptions result in lower safety levels than was maintained before the exemptions were allowed.
  3.   The continuation of the exemptions are found to be unaligned with the objectives and goals of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b).

How Truckers Reacted to UPS’s Exemption Requests

On June 9, 2017, the FMCSA published a notice and requested the public to comment on the exemptions requested by UPS.

The FMCSA garnered several reactions from truckers, but most of the comments were critical of UPS’s request.

These are some of the comments made.

“I am responding to UPS asking to be exempt from ELD mandates. This company has had as much time to prepare as the rest of the companies that have worked hard to comply with all Federal mandates on ELD. I do not believe this to be fair to those of us who have spent many hours, and dollars, on ELD mandates making our fleets compliant. Bottom line is they did nothing to prepare for this and now they are caught trying to comply.” — Don Witherell

“This seems to be a reasonable request, but it should be applied to all motor carriers.” — Carly Ercolini

“No, UPS should not receive an exemption. There are many smaller carriers who have already spent the time, money and effort to be compliant. To give UPS, a large carrier, an exemption would put the smaller carriers at a competitive disadvantage. We need consistency over businesses and over time to make prudent and wise decisions. Volatility in various laws is one of the major issues businesses are facing today.” — Anonymous Taylor

“If UPS gets exemptions on ELD’s then the same exemptions need to be applied to ALL carriers large and small. Otherwise, it could be viewed as discrimination against the smaller carriers.” — Amanda J

To view the comments of all that participated in the public commenting, check out Docket Number: FMCSA-2017-0054

What’s Next?

The closer we get to the ELD implementation date, the busier the trucking industry gets.

More and more carriers are expected to flock to ELD manufacturers at the last minute to start their transition. It’s exactly because of this possible scenario that you should start your ELD transition today — if you haven’t done so yet.

The longer a carrier delays its transition process, the higher the chances are of not being able to purchase enough ELDs for their fleets.

Considering how high the demand is going to be for ELDs in the next few weeks, ELD manufacturers are expected to run out of ELD supply. So, hurry up.

If you’re looking for affordable but value-packed ELDs, check out our ELD price comparison and ELD features comparison tools.

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