An angry OOIDA official expresses his frustration at the FMCSA ELD exemption denial

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

All of the frustration at OOIDA after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denied its request for an ELD exemption came pouring out of Doug Morris Thursday an interview on Sirius XM Road Dog Trucking.

Morris is the Director of Safety and Security Operations for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. He was interviewed about the FMCSA denial by Mark Reddig on LandLine Now, a show that is owned by OOIDA, like its namesake magazine.

The interview took place just a few days after the FMCSA denial of an OOIDA request that any companies that meet the Small Business Administration definition of small business be exempted from the ELD mandate. (While there have been comments that the definition is revenue of no more than $27.5 million, this link from the SBA itself notes that the definitions can be fluid.). The exemption request was filed in late November, and sought a five-year exemption from the rule.

Here are excerpts of his comments, verbatim except for minor changes for clarity, with FreightWaves observations in italics:

--We worked on this a long time. We already had litigation out there. We had folks working on the Hill trying to get legislation through, and it seemed like everything had kind of come to a stop. We decided, well, let's try to file an exemption request. We had been working on it for some time actually. We decided that we would go for the SBA's definition of small business.

--We submitted the request. The letter (denying the request) was signed June 16 from the administrator (Raymond Martinez), denying your request for small business carriers. If you look, June 16 is actually a Saturday, but we didn't receive a letter until Monday or Tuesday of this past week. It's kind of strange and we talked to the FMCSA folks, and they say it's not unusual for the administrator to come in and work on a Saturday because they are so far behind. I know one of the folks over there said he already had received over 400 emails in regard to this. So obviously they are very busy over there.

--Quite honestly I don't think they really want any exemption requests from the ELD mandate. They are lock, stock and barrel behind this thing. They have been spoon-fed for years from the (American Trucking Associations) and mega carriers and Congressional staff who work with the ATA lobbyists. They've been spoon-fed information they think the ELD mandate is the silver bullet to save 26 lives (a reference to an earlier cost-benefit analysis by FMCSA on the number of lives the ELD mandate will save because of presumed less fatigue and higher safety.)

--(Referring to an earlier five-year ELD exemption granted to the Motion Picture Association of America): I think the MPAA filed theirs right at the right time and they had the right folks to get it done. We tried our best. We had lobbyists and attorneys but the MPAA can really make FMCSA and the DOT look really bad if they want to. It is a small group and it goes before a panel and they decided, let's just give this an exemption. For what reason, I don't know.

--Because there have been other small groups out there who have been denied. They're saying, "you can't prove that this is going to be safer by granting this exemption request and how can you prove that?" You just can't.

--But they speak in double tongues. We talk the way it is.  Our board is (made up of) members who have been truck drivers with 750 years of driving experience. Look to see the other associations. How many years of driving experience do they have? How many small business carriers are on their board?

--We are trying this and that. I have got a little assignment for people out there. (He then instructs people on how to reach this link, which takes you to a more than 500-page bundle of documents relating to the ELD rule). Go through there and read it. If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, just go (search for OOIDA) and see what we did. This thing has been going on since the 1980's.

--Talking about other trucking associations, with the American Trucking Associations called out specifically: Their comments are kind of inflammatory. They say they didn't care about drivers' rights, they wanted to monitor that truck. See who is actually out there who is working for you and who is working against you.

--If they (an apparent reference to other association members) really knew the whole truth about what was being told to most of the Congressional staffers, they wouldn't even support most of the associations.

Asked for comment from FreightWaves, the ATA issued the following statement: “ATA is pleased that FMCSA has once again rejected an attempt to delay or subvert this important safety regulation. The specious arguments of ELD opponents have now been soundly rejected by the agency, by Congress and the courts and we hope that we can now move on the next phase of this issue: ensuring compliance with the ELD requirement and exploring common sense changes to the underlying hours-of-service rules.”