Trucking regulators are reviewing multiple petitions from freight industry stakeholders seeking waivers from a federal electronic logging device mandate, Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Rosen said March 23.
Speaking to reporters shortly after Congress cleared a $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 funding bill for President Donald Trump, Rosen said he would like to announce decisions soon regarding the numerous petitions under review by officials at the department. The funding bill, enacted into law March 23 to avoid a government shutdown, extends an ELD waiver for livestock and insect haulers through Sept. 30.
YOUR GUIDE TO THE MANDATE: Downloadable PDF.
“We do have additional petitions pending that would’ve taken on the agriculture side out further. And we haven’t resolved those. But, obviously when Congress has spoken we intend to adhere to what Congress has said, if it’s in the legislation,” Rosen said during a teleconference with reporters. He did not specify details about the pending ELD petitions.
“I think we know it’s an issue of widespread interest. Some of the interest really relates more to reservations or concerns people have about the underlying hours-of-service rule for trucking, rather than the ELDs themselves,” he said.
Noting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had already responded to concerns raised by certain motor carriers in the agriculture sector before Congress passed the funding bill, Rosen added, “We are attuned to the concerns on this and are trying to consider each of those petitions on their individual merits.”
FMCSA announced a waiver from the electronic logging device mandate through June 18 for agriculture-related transportation. That was the second such waiver the agency approved since the ELD mandate went into effect Dec. 18, 2017. “We continue to see strong compliance rates across the country that improve weekly, but we are mindful of the unique work our agriculture community does and will use the following 90 days to ensure we publish more helpful guidance that all operators will benefit from,” FMCSA administrator Ray Martinez said on March 19.
According to the agency’s Federal Register announcement on March 23, FMCSA “determined through its preliminary analysis of the public comments submitted to the public dockets that the issues raised by transporters of agricultural commodities are more complex than those raised by other segments of the industry seeking relief from the ELD requirements and that it is appropriate to take additional time to bring these matters to closure.”
Several members of Congress, including Republican Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois and Doug LaMalfa of California, had urged FMCSA and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to address the concerns raised by livestock haulers in their districts. The lawmakers did not respond to multiple requests seeking comment on the funding bill’s ELD provision.
During a March 6 hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Davis pressed Chao about the ELD mandate.
“I support the DOT’s electronic logging device rule, moving forward,” Davis said. “I do, however, also believe that there are legitimate concerns for certain industries who are working to come into compliance, and this includes the livestock-hauling industry.”
FMCSA told Transport Topics it had conducted several listening sessions, in-office and phone meetings with members of the U.S. House and Senate who had shared their concerns with the agency about the ELD rule. “We are continuing to provide outreach to all members, engage industry, and all other stakeholders,” an FMCSA official told Transport Topics on March 22.
ELDs automatically record a truck’s driving time to produce accurate HOS data by replacing paper log books.