The Grain Valley, Mo.-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a minimum five-year exemption from the electronic logging device requirements for motor carriers considered to a small transportation trucking business.

The agency published the notice in the Federal Register Jan. 2 and the request generated more than 90 comments by Jan. 4. Comments are due by Feb. 1.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said in a news release that it is urging truckers to file comments supporting exemption for small business truckers — defined as earning $27.5 million or less per average annual receipts — from the electronic logging device mandate.

The petition seeks the exemption for small trucking carriers that do not have an “unsatisfactory” safety history or at-fault crashes to be allowed to continue to use paper logs to record hours of service.

“The exemption would provide owner-operators relief from burdensome device installation and maintenance costs as well as the unresolved enforcement, cybersecurity, and privacy concerns associated with the mandate,” OOIDA said in the release. “This is the time to let FMCSA know how the mandate is currently impacting you and why ELDs are not a one-size-fits-all solution.”

The association said that exemptions and waivers have been granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for large carriers such as UPS, the ag industry, and rental truck fleets.

“They should also acknowledge small-business carriers who have shown they can drive safely without ELDs,” according to the release.

In the petition, Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the independent drivers association, said the ELD mandate is expected to cause many drivers to retire.

“If the mandates 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,” Spencer said in the petition.


90-day waiver

The petition comes near the beginning of a 90-day temporary waiver from the Electronic Logging Device mandate for truckers carrying agricultural products, including fresh produce. That temporary waiver period will end March 18.

There has been some confusion about how the waiver is applied.

Ken Gilliland, director of international trade and transportation for Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers, said the association has sought but not received clarification from the Department of Transportation on whether the waiver applies for commodities trucked from the field to the packinghouse or commodities transported across the country.

“Under the exemption, they have basically eliminated the (150-mile air radius) restriction, and I think everybody is interpreting it to mean that if you have a load of fresh produce you are at least temporarily not subject to the ELD mandate,” he said. “That’s the best we can determine.”

Gilliland said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has pledged to look at all the regulations that affect agriculture and consider if there is a need for continuing or expanded exemptions.

Western Growers hasn’t received a lot of questions from members about the ELD mandate.

“We have basically advised them that it is a carrier regulation and not their responsibility that the carrier complies with the regulation,” he said.