The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgated regulations that require all motor carriers and commercial trucking companies to include Electronic Logging Devices (“ELD”) on their vehicles (“ELD Mandate”). These ELDs are designed to monitor drivers’ hours of service and report that information in real time. The ELD Mandate went into effect on December 18, 2017. There are few exemptions to commercial drivers required to use the ELDs under the ELD Mandate. The cost of implementation and compliance in installing, monitoring, and maintaining these devices could cause undue hardship on smaller commercial carriers.
On May 23, 2018, Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN), Greg Gianforte (R-MT), and Steve King (R-IA) introduced House Resolution 5948, the “Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act of 2018” (“the Act”). The Act would exempt commercial carriers that “own or operate 10 or fewer commercial motor vehicles” from the ELD Mandate. The Act has been referred to the House Sub-Committee on Highways and Transit for assessment and potential hearings.
In the meantime, the FMCSA published a notice in the Federal Register on June 5, 2018, requesting public comment on a potential regulation amendment that would exempt motor carriers with “fewer than 50 employees” from the ELD requirements. The notice from FMCSA confirmed that the small business carriers would remain subject to the hours-of-service regulations and requirements that the drivers maintain paper records of their operation.
Both of these measures are still in their infancy as the public comment phase precedes the ultimate evaluation and decision phase by the FMCSA. Similarly, the Act would likely need a favorable recommendation from the House sub-committee; a favorable vote on the floor of the House of Representatives; and favorable votes in the U.S. Senate.
While the ELD Mandate is designed, in part, to assist in monitoring compliance with the FMCSA’s hours of service requirements, the FMCSA has recently somewhat eased restrictions on commercial carriers of certain petroleum products. National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc., and the Massachusetts Motor Transport Association, Inc., petitioned the FMCSA for an exemption of certain petroleum transporters from the required 30-minute rest break requirement within the first eight hours of operation of the vehicle. The petitioners argued that petroleum carriers are often stopped to deliver product, and during those stops, they are often required to be next to the vehicle for safety requirements. While near the vehicle during an unload, the drivers are not designated as “off duty” under the hours of service requirements. FMCSA determined that these frequent breaks to unload product achieve the same goals as the 30-minute rest break, and exempted carriers of certain petroleum products from the 30-minute rest break requirement. The remainder of the hours of service requirements remain in place, specifically, the limit on 14-hour “duty day” covering most drivers.
Franklin & Prokopik attorneys regularly defend and represent commercial carriers and trucking clients in all aspects of litigation and regulation compliance. For more information regarding this article, please contact Justin Tepe at firstname.lastname@example.org.