“Discrimination” Blamed for FMCSA Delay in Publishing New ELD Exemption Request
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Tuesday published a trucking group’s request for exemption from the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate after more than two months since its filing.
In August, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) once again petitioned the FMCSA for an exemption from the ELD mandate on behalf of independent contractors and carriers with fewer than 50 employees.
A month earlier, the FMCSA finally issued its denial of an exemption application submitted by the SBTC on February 1, 2018, after the FMCSA required the group to amend its submission of the same application from November 20, 2017.
In its denial, the FMCSA said the SBTC’s application for exemption “does not meet the regulatory standards for an exemption.”
James Lamb, president of the SBTC, told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) the FMCSA’s handling of its first exemption application was a “sham.”
A court battle ensued when in May of this year the SBTC filed a suit against the FMCSA alleging it was “intentionally discriminating” against the 15,000-member group.
For more on the denial and the lawsuit click HERE.
Though the case has since been dismissed after the judge sided with the FMCSA and agreed the suit was filed in the wrong venue, Lamb tells TNN the SBTC is considering refiling it in Circuit court.
The suit’s claim of discrimination was further strengthened, Lamb believes, by the FMCSA’s delayed publishing of the SBTC’s most recent request for exemption.
While the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) requires the FMCSA to publish the application into the Federal Register “upon receipt,” it is unclear why it took the agency approximately 11 weeks to do so.
“What disturbs us is that FMCSA continues to discriminate against SBTC, ignore and deprioritize our submissions, and make false promises in bad faith to deter us from exercising judicial review,” Lamb said to TNN last week. “We were promised a Federal Register notice was forthcoming two months ago.”
SBTC Argues ELD Exemption Must Be Granted
Lamb and the SBTC argue their newly submitted exemption request must be granted because the FMCSA has yet to demonstrate how the ELD mandate meets the required tests under 49 U.S. Code § 13541.
The SBTC contends the mandate: 1) is not necessary to enforce hours of service (HOS) regulations, 2) nor is it needed to protect shippers from the abuse of market power, and 3) is not in the public interest.
In fact, the SBTC asserts the mandate has only made U.S. roadways more dangerous for the motoring public and truckers.
The SBTC writes:
We have repeatedly asserted that ELDs have caused excessive speeding, which results in far more deaths ELDs would ever save by combating fatigue.
Further, the SBTC demanded the FMCSA grant its exemption request because the agency has failed, thus far, to demonstrate how the ELD mandate has improved highway safety.
Lamb and other critics of the ELD mandate were quick to voice their concerns after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its latest traffic fatality data last week.
The NHTSA report revealed trucker crash deaths rose to a 30-year high in 2018, which also happens to be the first full year of enforcement of the mandate.
The public comment period on the exemption application will be open until November 29, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
To submit a comment, click HERE.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT… Petition Launched To Suspend ELD Mandate
Lamb and the SBTC wasted no time in taking action after the NHTSA report was made public.
Last week, TNN broke the news that on October 25, Lamb commissioned a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking for the immediate suspension of the ELD mandate.
“SBTC is sending a clear message to the President, Congress and the bureaucrats at USDOT that truckers will not sit idly by as government promulgates failed public policy that results in more trucker deaths,” Lamb told TNN. “We urgently implore every American truck driver to seize this opportunity to send an urgent message over the next 30 days to the government that Trucker Lives Matter.”
The petition quickly gained a groundswell of support within the trucking community and is approaching 25,000 signatures as of this writing.
To sign the petition, click HERE.
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