ELD mandate: How to successfully appeal for an exemption from FMCSA
The trick lies in making a strong case with robust data, from the ground.
If you’re a part of the US trucking industry, you would know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has already granted ELD exemptions to some industries. Here are a few of them to jog your memory:
First: Haulers of fireworks are exempt, simply because of the nature of their work — the industry heavily relies on short-term rentals to transport 16,000 fireworks just two weeks prior to the Independance Day. The reasoning was — Investing in an ELD didn’t make much economic sense. The lack of it, for the short term travel, would not jeopardize the safety of drivers.
Second: Haulers catering to the farming and livestock have secured partial exemptions, given the unique nature of the industry. Commodities might perish en route if the industry sticks to the timelines mandated by ELD.
Sam Graves, the chairman of Highways and Transit Subcommittee drove home the point succinctly:
“We can’t have those rigid ELD standards when you’ve got a three-week window to move the entire country’s worth of fertilizers.”
Third: Small business motor carriers (those with a revenue up to than $27.5 million) are currently seeking exemption citing that they should not be subjected to buying costly, unproven and uncertified devices in the name of safety.
If you belong to an industry that is not ready for an ELD exemption, you’re going to have to be more than just succinct while presenting your standpoint to the FMCSA.
The good news is that FMCSA has been accommodating towards several industries such as above, and is keen to have dialogues with the concerned associations.
To make a strong case, consistently put your points across, just like the industries above, it becomes important to back up your arguments with enough and more data. Not just from a management perspective, but also in terms of ground-level challenges related to ELD implementation.
Here are some pointers that can help you in that direction:
1) Maintain an open communication channel with your drivers
Often times, drivers see things that you could seldom see from the comfort of your corporate office. In the run-up to the FMCSA listening session this summer, you should gather as many anecdotes as possible from your fleet: It could be about how ELD works for other industries, if the device functions well under different weather conditions, if the data captured is in fact accurate, among other things.
To accomplish this, you should set up an open communication channel, a safe space of sorts, so that they feel free to share such insights without hesitation.
2) Gather actionable feedback from the ground, every day
Despite maintaining an open channel of communication, the information gathered from the ground is bound to be subjective, and ad-hoc.
If you want hard data, you could consider setting up an information channel — that would log instances of wrongful citations, difficulty in operating the device, device malfunctioning, inability to debug the device and more.
A repository of data that is structured and present in abundance can tilt the needle in your direction.
3) Train drivers to maintain and show HOS logs
And lastly, know that the FMCSA won’t take you seriously if you don’t show an intent to keep your drivers safe.
The ELD mandate was primarily introduced to remove paperwork for drivers and to make drivers comply with the Hours-of-Service (HOS). Currently, HOS is recorded either on paper or on an Automatic on-board recording devices (ABORDS). If you want to prove that your fleet does not need an ELD, your fleet’s HOS records need to be impeccable.
The best way to enforce this is by repeatedly training and emphasizing the importance of recording HOS.
In summary, you should:
- Facilitate conversations about their everyday trips
- Gather actionable data from the ground
- Train them to maintain accurate HOS records
To execute something like this for hundreds of drivers, spread across multiple states, used to be a challenging task. Once upon a time.
Noticeboard can do all of the above, and help your company and representative body to put forth a stronger case to the FMCSA — either to extend the waiver, or make an exemption altogether.
We can say this with confidence, as we’ve successfully helped many a company rally their workforce for a cause they believed in.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can help you set up the process and train your drivers. Then, you'll be better prepared to make your statement with the authorities.