Questions arise over ELD exemption for rental vehicles

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FMCSA-issued exemption doesn’t seem to address multiple drivers per vehicle, or rentals that get extended past 8 days

While the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an exemption to the electronic logging device (ELD) rule for certain rental vehicles, the exemption has opened up several questions, including whether there is a potential loophole in the rule.

The Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) had requested a 30-day exemption for commercial rental vehicles from the ELD regulation. Among the concerns were efficiency and productivity losses for drivers who would have to learn a new ELD system or manually input information from a second ELD to maintain compliance.

According to Jake Jacoby, president and CEO of TRALA, the majority of vehicle rentals are between 5 and 30 days.

“Typical short-term rental trucks go from 5-30 days but they almost always stay under 30 for our customers which is why we picked that number in our petition,” he told FreightWaves. “If drivers will be forced to fill out their hours every 13 days as required by federal law, but will have to combine hours from their original ELD with another ELD platform, the administrative burden for drivers just to properly turn in their hours will be unbelievably difficult and time consuming.”

TRALA represents rental companies including Ryder System, Penske Truck Leasing, U-Haul, Budget, and Enterprise Truck Rental, as well as businesses such as Idealease, NationaLease, PACCAR Leasing Company, and Mack Leasing System-Volvo Truck Leasing System. TRALA members operate more than 5,000 commercial leasing and rental locations, and more than 20,000 consumer rental locations throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Under the exemption granted by FMCSA, drivers of vehicles rented for 8 days or less will be exempt from the ELD requirement, but not exempt from hours-of-service compliance. That means those drivers will need to fill out paper logs or use a portable device.

Follow FreightWaves’ coverage of the ELD mandate

“While TRALA appreciates that FMCSA has a congressionally directive to fulfill, approving 30 days or less would have taken care of 99% of the issues out there not only for my members but for fleets, customers, and the entire trucking industry that all count on short-tern rentals to accomplish their mission of moving freight,” Jacoby notes.

TRALA met with FMCSA on Oct. 5 to discuss the mandate where officials stressed the complications of drivers having to maintain two logging systems.

The exemption is for five years. Jacoby says he will be meeting with FMCSA officials next week to further discuss the exemption and get additional questions answered. One of those questions is whether a fleet that rents a vehicle for longer than 8 days can bypass the ELD regulation by running a series of 6- or 7-day rentals rather than a 13-day rental, for instance.

“You would not have to end an agreement as most short-term rentals get charged per day up to 30 days, so if you had the plan for 6 days but then your original truck took longer to fix and you extended it out another 12 days, you would have to have a workable ELD collecting HOS data starting on day 9 and use that combined with your paper logs for reporting purposes or if pulled over by law enforcement,” Jacoby explains.

The question of whether the ELD exemption applies to a driver of a rental vehicle or the vehicle itself is another one that Jacoby says the industry needs clarification on.

“This is a more tricky question honestly and one I intend to bring up with FMCSA next week,” he says. “Typically HOS rules and exemptions apply to the driver, but we have not figured out the scenario …where you potentially have multiple drivers for one vehicle or vice versa. My best guess is that the exemption for 8 days announced by FMCSA actually impacts both, but the 8 days seems to indicate one vehicle meaning if you rent for 8 days but then go more than that regardless of whether there is another driver, the vehicle would need to be equipped with an ELD after 8 days. You will not be able to rent a truck for 8-day periods continually – it will only count once – that I know for sure. FMCSA does not want anyone to “game” the system.”

So, as has been common with this entire ELD process for the last several years, the best answer at this time is, stay tuned.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.