All motor carriers and commercial trucking companies are now required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to include electronic logging devices (“ELD”) on their vehicles. These FMCSA regulations are often referred to as the ELD Mandate. The purpose of an ELD is to monitor a driver’s hours of service and report the information in real time. The ELD Mandate was published in December, 2015, and the first deadline to comply passed in December, 2017. Almost every commercial trucking company is required to comply with the ELD mandate, and many commercial carriers (especially smaller ones) expressed concern about the cost of implementation and compliance with the regulations, including having to install, monitor and maintain the devices. Fortunately, on May 23, 2018, a bill was introduced in Congress entitled the “Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act of 2018.” This Act allows commercial carriers that own or operate ten or fewer commercial vehicles to be exempt from the ELD requirement. The bill has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
The FMCSA also published a notice in the Federal Register on June 5, 2018, asking for public comment on a potential amendment to the regulations that would exempt motor carriers with fewer than 50 employees from the ELD requirements. The potential amendment would still require small carriers to be subject to the hours-of-service regulations and requirements but would allow them to maintain paper records. While there is a long way to go before the ELD Mandate could be amended to help out smaller carriers, this is at least a step in the right direction.
The FMCSA recently eased restrictions on commercial carriers of certain petroleum products after being petitioned to do so by several carriers. As the regulations now stand, petroleum transporters are required to take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of operation of the vehicle. The petitioning carriers maintained that petroleum carriers are often required to stop to deliver the product and that the drivers are often required to be next to the vehicle due to safety requirements. Even though the drivers are near the vehicle while it is unloading, they are not currently designated as “off duty” under the hours-of-service requirements. The FMCSA has now agreed that when a driver takes frequent breaks to unload his product, this achieves the same result as a 30-minute rest break. The remaining hours-of-service requirements are still in place, including a limit on the 14-hour “duty day” which covers most drivers.