Watch Now

Feds deny Pronto.AI exemption from 14-hour driving window

Autonomous trucking startup fails to convince regulators of fatigue-safety benefits

Pronto.AI’s driver assist technology. (Photo: Pronto.AI)

Pronto.AI has failed to convince federal regulators that its technology is sufficient to safely allow for additional driving time during work shifts or would allow drivers to safely extend their 14-hour workday.

In a decision scheduled to be posted in the Federal Register on Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asserted that the autonomous trucking startup was not able to provide enough data to explain why its request for a five-year exemption from the 14-hour driving window rule would at least maintain current safety levels.

“Based on the numerous research studies concerning fatigue and hours of service that the agency has reviewed in recent years, we do not believe there is a basis for allowing individuals to drive up to 13 hours during a work shift or operate after the 14th hour after coming on duty (except during adverse driving conditions),” FMCSA stated.

“The premise that the use of advanced technology should reduce the workload on drivers appears reasonable on the surface but the absence of data or information to quantify the impact on driver fatigue and alertness leaves the agency with no choice but to deny the application.”

Under the exemption, drivers in commercial vehicles equipped with Pronto.AI’s Copilot advanced driver assistance systems — along with operating under other safeguards — would have been allowed to drive up to 13 hours during a work shift within 15 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Current regulations allow a 14-consecutive hour driving window in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. The FMCSA is considering a pilot project that would ease 14-hour driving window restrictions.

Pronto.AI’s application, filed in April, faced an uphill battle from the outset, with early opposition from the Truckload Carriers Association and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the United States Transportation Alliance and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters also weighed in against granting the exemption.

In addition to pointing out the lack of information on safety benefits, those opposing Pronto.AI contended that granting the application would give Pronto.AI and its driver-assist Copilot technology (which FreightWaves test-drove last year) “would give Pronto an unfair competitive advantage to carriers that utilize its product,” according to FMCSA.

In addition to denying Pronto.AI, the agency also decided against an application filed by Right-A-Way LLC, a pipeline service company seeking an electronic logging device exemption for its short-haul drivers. The exemption would have allowed drivers to use paper records-of-duty status (RODS) rather than ELDs for more than eight days in a 30-day period.

However, “Right-A-Way did not provide an alternative means of ensuring compliance with the HOS rules” if such an exemption were granted, FMCSA stated.

Related articles:

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.