FMCSA Denies Trucking Group’s ELD Exemption Request One Week After Lawsuit Filed
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has once again denied a trucking group’s application for an exemption from the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate on behalf of small carriers.
On August 12, 2019, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) petitioned the FMCSA for a second time to provide an exemption from the ELD mandate to independent contractors and carriers with fewer than 50 employees.
In its application, the SBTC argued the exemption request must be granted because the Agency has failed to show how the mandate has improved public safety.
Specifically, SBTC contended 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 its newly issued denial, the FMCSA said the SBTC failed to “explain how an equivalent level of safety would be achieved by continuing to use paper logs.”
Further, the Agency asserted the SBTC’s application did not provide adequate information such as the number of drivers and commercial vehicle operators (CMVs) that would be covered by the exemption.
“Instead of providing the information required by subpart C of 49 CFR part 381 for reconsideration, SBTC presented arguments for not providing the information,” the denial states.
Interestingly, in its denial, the FMCSA acknowledged it received “approximately 355 comments, more than 300 of which favored the exemption.”
FMCSA Takes Action One Week After New Lawsuit Filed
The denial comes almost a week after the SBTC filed suit against the Agency in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging “intentional discrimination.”
The lawsuit argues the FMCSA is purposely failing to adhere to federal rules regarding multiple exemption applications submitted by the SBTC.
The SBTC’s complaint centers on the allegations the Agency is in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
Per the APA, once an application is filed with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), “the Secretary shall grant or deny an exemption request… in no case later than 180 days after the filing of such request.”
Until this week, the FMCSA had failed to render a decision within 180 days on three exemption requests filed by the SBTC dating back as far as February 12, 2019.
Most notably was the ELD exemption application which the Agency has now denied.
Also this week, the FMCSA published into the Federal Register an SBTC petition, filed September 10, 2019, for a 5-year exemption from the $75,000 broker/freight forwarder financial responsibility requirement for those brokers and freight forwarders with revenues under $15.01 million.
The broker bond petition is also part of the newly filed lawsuit.
Despite the FMCSA’s actions this week, James Lamb, president of the SBTC, tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) the lawsuit will continue on.
“I believe the record now shows there is clearly a pattern of abuse by FMCSA here and that non compliance and ignoring their obligations under the law is their regular business practice that needs to be declared by the Court illegal and permanently enjoined,” he stated.
TNN will continue to follow the case.