Will Small Carriers be Exempt from the ELD Mandate?

small carriers

For the past three years, carriers from large trucking companies right down to all the individual owners/operators have been patiently, albeit anxiously, waiting for the ELD Mandate to be implemented. While there are several questions about the intent of this new regulation, and whether it’s practical, one of the biggest questions is whether small carriers will be exempt from the ELD Mandate. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently held a public hearing of a petition to revise the ELD mandate. The petition specifically targeted regulations on carriers with fewer than 50 employees. The hearing, which took place on October 31st, 2019, and was extended to receive public and private remarks during the first week of November, was granted as several carrier advocacy groups have petitioned the FMCSA to revise the ELD Mandate prior to it’s December 2019 deadline. 

As the US Congress continues to infight political battles, approval of the ELD Mandate may likewise be pushed ahead to 2020. 

In this blog post, we’ll outline some of the facts about the ELD Mandate, and the efforts being completed by some lawmakers and advocacy groups to ensure all carrier groups are represented. 


The Changes to ELD Mandate in 2019

In March 2019, a bill was introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) that would allow small carriers (including those with 10 or fewer trucks) to be permitted to bypass the use of electronic logging devices and continue to use paper logs. 

The resolution – H.R. 1697 was launched from the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where it continues to be debated and fine-tuned by committee members. This bill was called the Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act, which is a variant of a similar bill introduced in May 2018. That original bill simply didn’t gain much support from Democrat or Republican Congressional members. 

In May 2018, the bill failed to make it out of the committee. Of course, that is the required first step for a bill to be introduced to the main congressional floor for debate and voting.

The previous bill received support from only 33-other congressional members (all Republicans). The current variant of this new bill has a single co-sponsor, Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican from Montana.

Likewise, a second bill was introduced in committee, The Agricultural Business Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act (H.R. 1698) provides exceptions to drivers that haul agricultural commodities such as livestock.


Facts About the ELD Mandate

The ELD Mandate was introduced to congress and passed in 2015. This regulation requires the use of an ELD, this is an electrical system that automatically monitors the drivers Hours of Service (HOS).

The Mandate was supposed to be enacted in December 2018. However, several advocacy groups and other regulatory agencies have filed injunctions, petitions, and other legal procedures that have delayed the implementation.  

The ELD system is an electronic device that is attached to the vehicle’s driveline system. It calculates the hours of service drivers spend on the road. When beginning their ‘shift’ the driver will log-into the ELD system which starts the monitoring of the vehicle. Some ELD systems are designed to cut off the engine’s operation if a driver is not actively logged-in. The use of this device was intended to remove the need for physical logs, which have been manipulated by many carriers and individual drivers for decades. 

The implementation of the ELD Mandate was primarily delayed due to questions about the terms of the mandate, the cost of purchasing the right equipment, and whether smaller carriers should be held to the same standards as larger fleets. For smaller carriers that are concerned with this, there is a list of exemptions on the FMCSA website for which they may qualify.

Additionally, the ELD system must be installed by certified professionals to accurately monitor the performance of the system. The main point of contention for small carriers is having the bandwidth and resources to comply with the ELD Mandate. More specifically, the purchasing of expensive equipment and the cost of training. 

If you’re a carrier with fewer than 10 trucks or 50 employees and would like to receive some assistance on preparing for the ELD Mandate, contact Redwood Logistics today