Driver issuesNewsTrucking Regulation

FMCSA denies ELD exemption to small trucking companies – again (with video)

A group representing trucking and other companies with 50 employees or less has been denied an exemption from the federal electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

The exemption, filed by the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC), received nearly 2,000 comments after it was posted in June 2018, with the vast majority – roughly 95 percent – in favor of the exemption.

However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asserted that SBTC’s application failed to provide evidence that safety would not be compromised under the exemption.

SBTC, which claims to have a membership of over 12,000 individuals and groups, did not “explain how you would ensure that you could achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained by complying with the regulation,” according to the FMCSA’s decision, scheduled to be posted on July 17.

SBTC also did not meet the statutory requirement to describe “the specific countermeasures the person would undertake to ensure an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved absent the requested exemption,” FMCSA stated. “SBTC proposed no countermeasures at all.”

In its application, SBTC asserted that ELDs, which were required to be installed and in use starting on April 1, 2018, are tools used to determine compliance with existing hours-of-service regulations, and that the ELD mandate itself is not a safety regulation per se.

“Therefore, it is our position that this rule does not itself impact safety, and that the level of safety will not change based on whether or not our exemption application is approved. That would require a change to the [hours-of-service rules],” SBTC contended. The exemption would have allowed motor carriers with fewer than 50 employees to maintain their current practices that have resulted in a proven safety record.

Because smaller trucking companies would continue to track their hours of service through paper logs, and that this method has been sufficient since the 1930s, SBTC argued, “we believe the level of safety is already assured by the pre-existing Hours of Service rule as opposed to this ELD enforcement mechanism rule.”

Officials from the Washington, D.C.-based coalition were not available to comment.

A similar ELD exemption request filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) was denied by FMCSA in July 2018. OOIDA’s request was for five years and would have covered small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration, which are those having average annual revenue of $27.5 million or less.

Most of the support for SBTC’s application came from smaller independent operators, while safety groups and those representing larger trucking companies generally opposed the request.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA), for example, disagreed with SBTC’s assertion that the ELD mandate did not itself constitute a safety regulation, because granting an exemption would allow fleets with 50 or fewer employees to use paper logs to record their on-duty time.

“This would allow for the potential of falsification of records of duty status (RODS) while leaving no controls in place for enforcement,” ATA argued in its comments. “The technical specifications and requirements of ELDs ensure the accuracy of a drivers’ RODS, and reduce the likelihood that a driver is operating beyond the federally established limits.”

Carriers using automatic onboarding recording devices (AOBRDs) were grandfathered in when the “soft” ELD mandate went into effect in December 2017, and were given until December 16, 2019, to comply. However, the latest weekly survey conducted by FreightWaves and EROAD, released on July 15, found that 23 percent of fleets with one to five trucks have yet to make the switch.

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

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.


  1. trucking business is fucked company drivers,owner operators we need to stop moving trucks that way we can take power back and remember things need to be done our way not theirs lets stop this industry for just couple of that after that they the goverment will surrend and every single business will do our way we move this country insurrance will be lover,no more dot harrassment,no more roadtax scam,no more state crossing permit we need to stop this shit asap and move no more loads

  2. It’s about the money for those out east under the table of course . Plus most of paying stock owned by those . It only profits big companies.

  3. Small business truckers have been abusing their paper logs ever since the first log books were required. Groups like OOIDA would have the common public who know nothing about trucking believe that all drivers have the moral standards of a saint and wouldn’t even consider falsifying an official document. For those of us in the business we are all to aware that falsifying the log books was the rule and not the exception. Slang terms for the logs such as the cheat sheets, swindle sheets and funny pages were well deserved. ELD’s level the playing field for all drivers and more importantly contribute to the public safety.

    1. You really believe your comment’s? your probably not old enough to know what
      we drivers went through in the 60’s thru 90’s to get punks like you to where you are today. If you only knew you would leave
      PUBLIC SAFETY out of your comment’s.

  4. Its not about safety all about money,look how much it costs to comply with ELD rule.shippers and receivers are taking hours n hours to load/unload trucks,killing bottom line profit.small trucking companies are to shutdown and let big corporations take over this is the plan.

  5. The stupidity of this whole ELD bullshit is. I stay up 34.625hrs on a required restart nonstop meaning no sleep,
    watching movies, sitting up watching traffic, walking,whatever. Now I am ready to go to work leagaly no one can stop me. I’ve had my proper off duty time, they’ll never use ELD OR PAPER OR WHATEVER FOR SAFETY, its just one more step to a COMMUNIST Country.
    I’ve seen alot of changes in my 42yrs out here,if You Don’t put a stop to this SHIT we’ll lose our FREEDOM FOREVER.

  6. It appears FMCSA is not going to back away from electronic logging. But one thing for sure electronic logging in my opinion is definitely a safety hazard to all interstate and intrastate traffic. It puts the driver in dangerous situations and the public is at a dangerous situation.Electronic logging is definitely a safety hazard and I can’t help thinking the FMCSA knows that.

  7. Elds wow cheated everyday lied on at shipper showing loaded in first 30 then sleeper birth tell act loaded 6 hrs later wow 2 HR nap then on the road racing to next stop wow now tired, but can’t stop clock don’t ,light bill due house payment etc. So now you got a tired driver speeding to get to destination ! So what is safe about a elds ? It just a violation of your constitutional right the Constitution states you can only track a law abiding citizen with a warrant ! Fmcsa violated your constitutional rights and you dum drivers bowwed down and took it !!!!!!