The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is now accepting comments on the request made by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) to exempt certain small carriers from the ELD mandate for at least five years.

As defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA), small trucking companies are those that earn up to $27.5 million in revenue on an annual basis.

Drivers and carriers, including small trucking companies, were required to begin complying with the FMCSA’s ELD mandate on December 18, 2017.

A quick recap

To recall, the OOIDA asked the FMCSA in November to extend the ELD deadline for small carriers that “do not have a Carrier Safety Rating of ‘Unsatisfactory,’ and can document a proven history of safety performance with ‘no attributable at-fault crashes.’”

The exemption would not have any adverse impacts on operational safety, as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the (hours of service) regulations,” the group mentioned in its request.

The owner-operator association cited the following concerns regarding the ELD mandate:

  • A lack of a full government or independent third-party vetting process on many of the 150+ self-certified ELDs that are in the FMCSA’s registry.
  • Cost of compliance.
  • Broad concerns about cybersecurity.

The FMCSA will accept comments on the OOIDA’s petition until February 1, 2018.

Using paper logs

OOIDA’s petition mentioned that drivers who will be covered by the ELD implementation exemption would still be required to keep paper logs.

The group also said the exemption would “allow small business motor carriers to maintain their current practices that have resulted in a proven safety record.”

OOIDA believes that a five-year exemption would give ELD manufacturers time to be vetted and approved by regulators, allow small carriers to determine which ELD best fits their operation, and give law enforcement ample time to analyze which devices meet regulatory requirements.


As of this time of writing, OOIDA’s petition already garnered over 1,500 comments.

The petition received mixed reactions from drivers, with some supporting the petition and others showing opposition. Following are some of the comments truckers made regarding the petition.

“I am opposed to the HOS exemption requested by OOIDA for small companies. This demographic historically represents the most egregious violators of the HOS rules. There is no way possible that paper logs can obtain the same or greater level of safety as ELDs. Fraudulent logs are exactly what ELDs strive to reduce and is the whole premise behind the ELD reducing fatigue and crashes involving CMVs. It is a requirement that exemptions must demonstrate an equal or greater level of safety. That burden has not been met by the request. The request should be treated the same as if the same group asked for a waiver from controlled substance testing for Heroin and Cocaine due to the burden on this demographic. Should FMCSA unwisely choose to reduce the level of safety for these drivers it certainly should not include a conditional or unrated carrier. HOS or crash are the main reasons carriers are conditional on a focused investigation. Granting a waiver to these carriers flys [sic] in the face of exactly what this rule was designed to improve. “ — William Forbes

We as small business owners cannot bare [sic] the expense of this equipment or the IT staff that it is becoming evident is needed to keep them operational.” — David Bosma

“I am opposed to this exemption request. The way this exemption request reads it would allow a very large segment of the transportation industry to be able to continue to avoid real hours of service compliance. Hours of service compliance is critical to keeping our roads safe and the only effective way to do this is use a device that automatically indicates when a truck moves. Automatic onboard recording devices have been in use for some time now and their effectiveness at reducing false record of duty status entries, which translates into reduced driver fatigue through compliance with the hours of service requirements, are well documented. If hours of service compliance is not the issue why would how compliance is monitored be an issue? With the many choices of ELD providers offering a wide range of services that run from very expensive to very reasonable, the cost of compliance annually is less than one ticket or accident where driver fatigue is determined to be the cause. I would also like to point out that the very reason why many of the small carriers have a good safety record is due to a lack of exposure to enforcement and not the result of having had repeated inspections with no defects found.” — James Stephens

If you’d like to share your opinion on OOIDA’s petition, you can add your comment here.

ELDs aren’t costly

A few comments are from truckers and owner-operators who are against installing an ELD due to its cost. However, electronic logging devices are not expensive and have numerous benefits that minimize operational costs and maximize profits.

The FMCSA estimates that the ELD mandate would save the trucking industry over $1 billion. Because of automation of tasks, increased efficiency, and reduction of paperwork, the average annual savings per driver could be up to $705.

ELDs and the trucking industry

After the ELD mandate implementation, market conditions are now favoring truckers. The dry van’s national truck-to-load ratio hit an all-time high — 10.1 loads per truck. Industry experts forecast that the favorable market conditions would continue for at least six more months.

Electronic logging devices have numerous advantages, and carriers are slowly exploring the untapped potential of these devices by reducing administrative burdens, minimizing fuel wastage, increasing efficiency, and maximizing profit.

Request a free demo of the Motive ELD today.

If you have any questions, call 844-325-9230.