In the first few weeks of 2018, several trucking groups and fleets petitioned the FMCSA for specific ELD mandate exemptions. This was a follow-up to the many other ELD exemption requests from organizations like CES, ARA, AESC, and ADS.

The ELD mandate was clearly making things complicated, especially for over-the-road companies working in niche markets.

The ideas behind tow truck exemptions

In January of 2018, the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) and a seasonal propane-hauling fleet also requested exemptions from the ELD rule.

The TRAA (Towing and Recovery Association of America) requested a five-year exemption from the FMCSA’s ELD mandate. This exemption request was for all tow truck drivers while they are providing towing, recovery, and roadside repair services.

The group that filed the exemption request—TRAA—represents more than 35,000 towing companies across the United States of America.

The Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA) highlighted in its exemption request that most tow truck drivers work within the short-haul exemption. However, they occasionally do not qualify for the short-haul exemption for more than eight days in a 30-day period and, therefore, have to maintain paper logs for either their driving radius or hours worked.

The tow truck drivers group also mentioned that their drivers often switch between interstate and intrastate regulations more than once per day. Moreover, throughout their shifts, their drivers also switch between commercial and non-commercial vehicles.

In its exemption request, TRAA said that using electronic logging devices would be an “undue burden” to them since their drivers would only need to keep logs for a small part of their daily operations.

The group also said that “towers’ responsiveness to their customers and the monitoring public would be severely reduced, and costs of towing services would increase immeasurably [sic]” in case there is no exemption from the ELD mandate from them.”

The FMCSA sought comments on the ELD exemption request by TRAA up until February 9, 2018. By the time the comment period had closed, they received approximately 250 comments.

On December 7, 2018, the FMCSA formally issued a denial of 10 ELD exemption requests, the TRAAs request included. The FMCSA simply said the continued use of paper RODs and their verification would not be equivalent to the quality of safety ELDs provide.

Propane hauler exemptions to the ELD mandate

In a similar effort to simplify matters, STC Inc. — a 75-truck fleet that transports propane fuel and anhydrous ammonia — also requested an ELD mandate exemption citing that it couldn’t afford the cost of compliance.

According to the 75-truck fleet, warm winters had negatively affected its revenues and, therefore, the fleet was unable to afford the installation of electronic logging devices to put them in compliance with the FMCSA’s ELD mandate.

STC Inc. also mentioned that the company doesn’t operate throughout the year. Instead, it operates seasonally (its operations are dependent on the weather).

The company says that its drivers would continue using paper logs if the ELD exemption is granted.

The FMCSA sought comments on STC’s exemption request until February 9, 2018. No formal decision has been announced, but considering the FMCSAs denials of requests from other organizations that rely heavily on seasonal work like the agriculture equipment industry, the outlook is not promising.

The one exemption that has been granted on behalf of propane haulers is the 30-minute rest break rule. Under this provision, drivers who cannot complete their assignment within the designated 12 hours must, at the first available opportunity, take a 30-minute rest break.

No further word has been given on full ELD exemptions for propane haulers. It may be some time for the ELD mandate to settle in before the FMCSA is willing to make concessions.

An ELD solution is good for your fleet

Now that the ELD mandate is in full effect, and it is apparently making a positive impact on the trucking industry and the market conditions for truckers, striving for compliance is worth your focus. A high-quality ELD can help you reap the benefits this mandate was created to foster.

Since ELDs are now mandatory, it’s important to choose one that has broad functionality in order to meet current and prospective needs. An ELD worthy of the expense will be easy to install. It’ll streamline communication with staff and management while offering around-the-clock customer support. Ultimately, fleet workflow can be simplified by viewing policy changes as opportunities for internal business innovation.

Integration is a constant question for ELD manufacturers, and the best products work in a variety of equipment to solve fleets’ needs. True ELD compliance enables your fleet to pass audits simply, steer clear of HOS violations, and even record hours performed in areas with unreliable cellular service. Premium features in an ELD device, like an integrated WiFi Hotspot, can help you maintain connectivity so a driver’s efforts will not be overlooked.

The ideal ELD also maintains an eye towards the future, prepared to accommodate your fleet once the goals you’ve set for growth are achieved. ELD compliance can be seen as one benchmark to help fuel improvement in other business areas.

If you exceed your expectations, and your fleet grows in size, advancements in asset tracking technology can help you make intelligent business decisions about how best to protect drivers, equipment, and profits. In some ways, the ELD mandate has opened up a much-needed discussion about the level of awareness fleets have about their daily operations. Be sure to choose a device scalable to the daily and evolving needs of your company.

This year might bring more exciting developments to the trucking industry. Preparing your fleet for the present will help ensure profitability while adjusting to whatever comes next in the industry.

An ELD solution for your fleet

Learn how Motive can help you with compliance. Connect with a sales rep or request a demo today.