90-day waiver announced for ‘transporters of agricultural commodities’
In a news release dated Nov. 20 and published on https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/fmcsa-announce-additional-eld-transition-guidance under the headline ‘FMCSA To Announce Additional ELD Transition Guidance,’ the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Administration, or FMCSA, announced that “in advance of the Dec. 18, 2017, implementation of the Congressionally-mandated electronic logging device (ELD) rule, and to further facilitate transition to the rule by motor carriers, the Agency will be providing guidance related to enforcement procedures during the ELD transition. These will include a 90-day temporary waiver from the ELD requirement for transporters of agricultural commodities, formal guidance specifically pertaining to the existing Hours-of-Service exemption for the agricultural industry, and guidance on the ‘personal conveyance’ provision.”
The release goes on to say that “FMCSA will also provide guidance on the existing 150 air miles hours-of-service exemption in order to provide clarity to enforcement and industry. The guidance is designed to allow industry to maximize the use of this statutory exemption. The Agency will consider comments received before publishing final guidance.”
However, “FMCSA and its enforcement partners are fully prepared for the Dec. 18, 2017 implementation. The forthcoming announcement represents the agency’s desire to implement the ELD rule in a manner that improves safety without impeding commerce.”
A quote from the agency’s Deputy Administrator Cathy F. Gautreaux reads, “FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups, including agriculture, and will continue to take steps to ease the transition to the full implementation of the ELD rule.”
And it advises that “formal publication of the guidance via the Federal Register is expected within the next two weeks, and will include a public comment process.”
The 11th-hour stay comes nearly two years after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its final ELD rule (the first one was published in 2013), and slightly more than two weeks for the deadline for compliance, Dec. 18, 2017. That’s the date all CDL drivers were told they must have an electronic logging device in place to keep a Record of Duty Status.
Several websites have run the news of the waiver, such as FB News at https://www.fb.org/news/transportation-department-temporarily-waives-logging-device-mandate-for-agr on Nov. 27. That site says, “The Department of Transportation has granted a 90-day waiver from the requirement that agricultural and livestock haulers install electronic logging devices in their vehicles. Over those 90 days the department plans to look closely at agriculture’s request for an exemption while developing additional guidance for agricultural haulers. Most farmers and ranchers should be exempt from the ELD mandate because they can claim covered farm vehicle status, but drivers who haul livestock, live fish and insects are likely to fall under the requirements.”
Is produce within the purview of the waiver? According to interpretations by several other sites, it would seem so.
At https://www.fb.org/podcast/dot-grants-agriculture-temporary-electronic-logging-device-waiver on Nov. 28, AFBF Congressional Relations Director Andrew Walmsley is quoted as saying, “Beginning Dec. 18, most other commercial vehicle drivers will have to comply, but if you have ag commodities or livestock, you’re going to have an additional 90 days while the agency reviews the petition that Farm Bureau and others in the livestock industry put before the agency to grant an exemption for a longer term.”
American Shipper also ran an update on Nov. 21 at https://www.americanshipper.com/main/news/fmcsa-issues-temporary-eld-waiver-for-agricultural-69778.aspx under the headline “FMCSA issues temporary ELD waiver for agricultural transporters.” The story leads with, “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a 90-day waiver from the electronic logging device mandate for agricultural commodity transporters after hearing concerns from the agricultural industry, especially with regard to livestock transport.”
While waiting for further instruction from the FMCSA site with final publication of guidance in the next couple of weeks, there are dozens of websites listing pros and cons of the law that can be visited. Public comment will likely be lively on the FMCSA site, and rather than present only opinion now, OnionBusiness.com is looking at
https://eldfacts.com/eld-facts/.com and suggesting readers visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/implementation-timeline for information from the feds.
From the FMCSA site, we get, “2: Phased-In Compliance Phase: The two-year period from the Compliance Date to the Full Compliance Phase (four years following ELD rule publication) December 18, 2017 to December 16, 2019… Carriers and drivers subject to the rule can use: AOBRDS that were installed prior to December 18, 2017; Self-Certified and registered ELDs with FMCSA; Phase 3: Full Compliance Phase: After December 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use self-certified ELDs that are registered with FMCSA.”
We encourage dialog about this measure; we’re not finding many shippers who are in favor of the measure. We’ll continue to look at the ELD situation as the onion shipping season continues, and we hope our readers will provide us with their thoughts.
Today, here’s what ELD Facts imparts:
“Considering the mandate applies to over three million drivers on the road today, it’s important that the trucking industry as a whole is up-to-speed on its ELD facts,” the site begins. It then defines an ELD as well as what the device is intended to do: enable “professional truck drivers and commercial motor carriers to easily track Hours of Service (HOS) compliance.”
The site goes on: “The new ELD rule adds certain technical and performance specifications that define exactly what the device must feature. For example, an ELD must: Connect to the truck’s engine to record if the truck is in motion; Allow the driver to log in and select On-duty, Off-duty, or On-Duty Not Driving – drive segments must be automatically selected based on vehicle movement; Graphically display a Record of Duty Status, so a driver can quickly see hours in a day; Provide data in a format that’s standardized and can be transmitted to law enforcement in a number of prescribed ways, such as wireless web services, USB, or Bluetooth 2.0; [and] Be provider-certified that the device meets the proper specifications.”
The devices are available in several shapes and sizes, and the cost per truck can range from an annualized price of $165 to $832, with the most popular device used today priced at $495/truck.”
The site says that “while ELD prices haven’t come down drastically in the past few years, many providers are introducing less expensive fleet management system models that have features designed specifically for the ELD mandate.
“Based on this trend, and paired with the economic benefits that come from paperwork reductions, the FMCSA found the long-term savings ELDs deliver to be greater than the costs to motor carriers and drivers.”
ELDs can run on smartphones or tablets, which the site said can reduce start-up costs.
“No matter the size of the business – from independent owner/operator to large national carrier – return on investment is realized almost immediately. These types of ELD solutions also offer the added benefit of untethering the device from the cab, allowing truck drivers to take advantage of powerful data analytics and other mobile apps anytime, anywhere.”
And it says, “The FMCSA believes the total annual cost of ELD adoption will be $975 million, which includes all equipment for carriers and commercial truck inspectors, as well as inspector and driver training.”
However, “To be fair to the business changes ELDs can impact, another $604 million was budgeted for ‘extra drivers and CMVs needed to ensure that no driver exceeds HOS limits.’”
The site maintains, “All in, the net benefits of ELDs outweigh the costs with expected paperwork savings of over $1.6 billion annually, plus crash reduction costs of $395 million. It should be noted that the ELD rule allows for the ‘grandfathering’ of current E-log devices to meet the proposed rule. If you had already invested in E-logs before December 2015, you may continue to use those devices until December 2019.” And, parenthetically, it adds, “(Once you talk to a fleet that has voluntarily adopted E-logs, you will find it’s nearly impossible for their drivers to give them up.)”
An ROI calculator states that the devices “can also dramatically improve your bottom line…” and based on “assumptions stated by the FMCSA in its Regulatory Impact Analysis for ELDs, paperwork savings per driver per year are estimated to include:
Driver Filling RODS, $487; Driver Submitting RODS, $56; Clerk Filing RODS, $120; Elimination of paper driver log books, $42.”
The total, it says, is “$705 per year in just paperwork savings alone – and that’s a conservative estimate.”
To explain how the FMCSA came up with that amount, the site explains, “The agency estimates that each truck driver fills out an average of 240 RODS per year, and an ELD is estimated to reduce the amount of time drivers spend logging their HOS by 4.5 minutes per RODS – or, 19 hours each year. They also note the time commercial drivers spend filing or forwarding their RODS to carriers, which the agency estimates takes five minutes and occurs 25 times per year – eliminating two more hours a year. In short, that’s a potential 20+ hours of drive time wasted by filing and sending paper driver logs.”
There’s more: “If you are an owner/operator able to charge today’s rate of $1.92/mile for a dry van operation and driving 50 MPH, that’s $1,920 in lost revenue each year. For drivers who use E-logs, ELD manufacturers report an increase of 15 minutes of drive time per driver per day. And, because E-logs support rounding up to the nearest minute, as opposed to the 15-minute intervals required by paper driver log books, it’s common for most drivers who make a few stops in a day to gain even more drive time due to exact recording of on-duty time.”
Using a “more aggressive model,” the site goes on to say, “Consider an owner/operator running a flatbed operation at $2.47/mile, averaging 50 MPH, and running approximately 1900 miles a week. That driver would realize: 1.5 hours/week from reduced paperwork = $185.25/week in potential new driving (billable) time; 1.5 hours/week of rounding to the nearest minute = $185.25/week in potential new driving (billable) time; Commanding a higher rate based on proven HOS compliance ($2.60 compared to $2.47) = $247/week; Potential reduction of one OOS violation a year, resulting in one more day on the road = $20.58/week; Saving on potential fines from form and manner violations = $6.25/week; And, while the math on accident reduction savings is trickier, the FMCSA did calculate an average safety benefit of $187 per long-haul ELD user and $126 per short-haul ELD user.”