Permanent ELD exemption proposed

Agricultural drivers may get a reprieve from the electronic logging device (ELD) requirement yet.

On Dec. 28, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to exempt members of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) from the ELD requirement. Agricultural carriers have previously received a 90-day exemption back on Nov. 20, 2017. The ELD mandate went into effect Dec. 18, 2017.

This proposed rule would exempt members of the ARA from the Congress-issued ELD mandate.

“ARA states that the ELD requirement imposes undue economic and other burdens on its member retailers and distributors of farm-related products and services,” the proposed rule reads. “It asserts that the ELDs fail to properly record the complex [hours of service] data, are not properly certified by the FMCSA, and do not provide appropriate cybersecurity safeguards.”

The mandate dates back to December of 2015, when the ELD rule was finalized. The purpose of the rule was to “help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status data,” according to the FMCSA. It additionally notes that an ELD “synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.”

Given the unique needs of livestock haulers, however, the phasing out of standard handwritten logbooks was seen as a threat to animal welfare.

Another reason given for the proposed exemption is security.

“ARA is concerned that the ELDs are vulnerable to both cybersecurity attack and illicit monitoring of the movements of member [commercial motor vehicles], some of which transport hazardous materials.”

Comments are open on the proposed rule through Jan. 29.

You can comment online at www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID of FMCSA-2017-0336.

You can also submit comments by mail. Include the Docket ID of FMCSA-2017-0336 on your comment. Mail the comment to Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

Remember that all comments made, either online or by mail, are made public as sent, including any personal information included in the comment. If you are uncomfortable with your personal information being made public, do not include it in your comment.

As of press time, there were only three comments submitted, all from livestock haulers. — WLJ

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