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FMCSA denies exemptions for drivers traveling with pets

Agency notes lack of evidence provided by business group that safety standards could be ensured if HOS/ELD exemptions were granted for drivers with pets

Federal regulators have denied a request by the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) to ease regulations for drivers traveling with their pets.

In a document to be published in the federal register Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asserted that after assessing SBTC’s petition and subsequent comments that the agency couldn’t ensure safety levels would be maintained if it were to approve the request.

SBTC had been seeking an exemption from both the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and the hours-of-service (HOS) requirements, asking that drivers with pet companions be allowed to drive up to 13 hours during a work shift and to operate within a 16-hour window, which extends beyond the current driving limits.

“Drivers need to drive slower — rather than race the clock — when animals are on board to prevent injuries, especially when negotiating rough roads, so they need more than the normal hours of service to complete their runs,” SBTC contended in its petition filed earlier this year.

“When drivers have an extended day beyond the 14-hour rule, they can take more breaks, feed, relieve and exercise their pets and reduce the likelihood that they will drive fatigued. This additional two hours will reduce the current trend in large truck occupant fatalities, improve overall safety, which is clearly in the public interest, and save the lives of thousands of animals not currently being included in the large truck occupant fatality statistic by [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. We suggest animals count too.”

FMCSA acknowledged that close to 80% of the 165 comments favored the exemption. However, in support of its decision to deny SBTC’s request, FMCSA emphasized comments from several groups, including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).

“FMCSA approval of this application would, in essence, apply an overbroad category of exempted individuals to an insufficiently defined class of exemption,” noted ATA. “Despite some research that shows how domestic animals can improve driver feelings of companionship and, anecdotally, safety, SBTC’s application does not support the agency’s obligation of ensuring an equivalent or greater level of safety than exists under the current regulation.”

According to CVSA, if the agency were to approve SBTC’s request, the additional driving and on-duty time “will expose drivers to a greater risk of fatigue, putting themselves and the public at risk and the ELD exemption would make adherence to the hours-of-service rules much more difficult to verify. The hours-of-service framework is put in place to prevent this type of excessive driving that causes fatigue.”

FMCSA also asserted that SBTC failed to offer countermeasures “to ensure an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved under compliance with the current rules.”

In addition, revisions to the HOS rules that went into effect on Sept. 29 to add more flexibility for drivers did not allow drivers additional driving time beyond the current 11-hour limit or the 14-hour duty day, it stated.

“None of the final rule provisions increases the maximum allowable driving time, as the available data does not support any additional driving time.”

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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. Scott W, II agree with you 100%, I read through several comments with disbelief to the point of being pissed off. Until I read your post…says exactly what I was thinking!
    I’ve been at it since 96 when I came home from the Marine Corps. Been an O/O for the last 10 years, The thing I see that has changed the most with using the ELD is that 20 years ago the truckstops are full of drivers from the big fleet companies, There was a lot of loafing and dragging their feet to get from point A to point B. Anybody that’s been in this industry for any length of time realizes the ELD was not put in the truck for safety but for productivity. It’s a company’s babysitter that ensures they get the most out of you each day. I’ve driven newer trucks with the ELD and I’ve driven older trucks on paper logs and I have to say I was very resistant to the ELD but after I started using it it wasn’t so bad and then I rebuilt my 98 Freightliner and put it back on the road and I’m back on paper which seems like a lot of extra work nowadays. The ELD Is inconvenient from time to time shutting you down a little earlier than expected but I’ve never had any recourse from shipping and receiving because the industry has come to expect that, nothing is perfect in this world, and I’m pretty certain that the same folks complaining about more hours and paper logs would be the same individuals at the scale house in trouble for the logbook not being correct or running 2 logs. If you don’t like the job get out of the truck and go do something else.

  2. It’s also a regulation that 4 wheelers put there cell phone away when they drive. But rarely do. Can you work on that. So 18 wheelers don’t have to slow down because 4 wheelers are to busy texting to pay attention to the road. Or eating putting on makeup or shaving or reading last night’s text’s. Thanks.

    1. Are you guys really that stupid where you think your pets going to give you more hours come on this is a f****** joke you guys need to stand up and get back to your paper log okay this s*** there they changed okay they sit there and say that we’re driving tired and fatigued correct okay now they’re changing the f****** off hours of service service to work us longer does that make any sense to any of you f****** dumb bastards out there it’s f****** b******* this tired s*** you need to stop f****** fallen for their stupid s*** and stand up and tell him the f*** off go back to paper f*** this electronic s*** doing is making a f****** mess out of everything and then when it’s at Central because of covid-19 can run whatever it’s either right or wrong the f****** hours are right or wrong if not to benefit them in the time of me okay it’s either right or wrong if you if you needed to run extra hours to save your business would they give a f*** they would tell you screw used to paint your f****** fine but if it’s going to help the country and until you guys are Central you guys can run hours you knowing and this b******* f*** the motherfuking.

  3. Worried about safety? Leave the pets at home. This is not a work from your moving house job. This is your career and everyone around you is affected by your split second decisions made in an 80k lb vehicle traveling 60 mph. Want to see your pet every day? Get a local job.

  4. We are THE MASTERS OF MANKIND and we are in the process of making sure no job in any field or profession pays any amount that you lower level human beings can be proud of. Capitalism as you once knew it is no more. We will be reaping an even greater percentage of the fruits of your labor going forward. Allow us to thank you in advance for being the good slaves you are unknowingly allowing yourselves to be morphed into.

    The Masters Of Mankind

  5. So let me understand, appealing for an exemption of the 11/14 rule so I can work a 13/16 hour shift?
    Wow, yea where can I sign up for that deal?
    How stupid are we?

  6. Humm,
    Couple things right out of the gate. Driving is a choice. I’m so tired of hearing how many generations of family members are and were drivers. If you need a companion in your truck, buy a pick up and stay local. Just because a dog wags the tail doesn’t mean its happy. Now,dogs dont talk. They react. Like all animals, they only “converse in a language all there own. When a canine is barking like a wild banshee its because he’s reacting off the emotions from the owner. But, who am I? I’m animal lover. I dont need to feed off the attention of, “Oh, what a cute emotionally unstable animal!!!”
    Do the right thing and quit medicating off animals. Grow up and smell the poop! Let your pets be pets!

  7. If you need a pet for companionship just accept it will delay you and you will make less money OR get a local job. We all should play by the same rules. NO SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR SNOWFLAKES.

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