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SBTC to FMCSA: Reconsider denial of ELD exemption application for small carriers

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Sbtc to fmcsa: reconsider denial of eld exemption application for small carriers
The Small Business Transportation Coalition said it believes that the exemption from the ELD rule for motor carriers with fewer that 50 employees would not have any adverse impacts on operational safety as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the Hours of Service regulations as well as the requirements to maintain paper records of duty status. (Courtesy: J.J. KELLER)

WASHINGTON — The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider its application for exemption from the electronic logging device rule. The exemption application was denied by the agency on July 17.

The SBTC says it is a network of over 15,000 transportation professionals, associations and industry suppliers who seek to promote and protect the small business players in the transportation industry.

The FMCSA said the SBTC had resubmitted its application for exemption from the ELD requirements for all motor carriers with fewer than 50 employees, including, but not limited to, one-person private and for-hire owner-operators of commercial motor vehicles used in interstate commerce.

SBTC said it believed that the exemption would not have any adverse impacts on operational safety as motor carriers and drivers would remain subject to the Hours of Service regulations as well as the requirements to maintain paper records of duty status (RODs).

In a Federal Register notice published Tuesday, the FMCSA is requesting public comment on SBTC’s application for reconsideration.

In its original application for exemption that was denied by FMCSA, the SBTC said the ELD rule is not a “safety regulation”’ per se as the FMCSA had concluded.

Rather, the SBTC said, the ELD rule is a mechanism intended to enforce a safety regulation by regulating the manner in which a driver records and communicates his compliance. That is, it is merely a tool to determine compliance with an existing rule that regulates over-the-road drivers’ driving and on duty time.

The FMCSA said it received more than 1,900 comments on the SBTC’s original application for exemption, most of which favored granting the exemption, but the agency denied the application and listed these reasons for denial:

  • Failing to provide the name of the individual or motor carrier that would be responsible for the use or operation of CMVs under the exemption
  • Failing to provide an estimate of the total number of drivers and CMVs that would be operated under the terms and conditions of the exemption.
  • Failing to explain how an equivalent level of safety would be achieved.

In its request for reconsideration, the FMCSA said the SBTC provided responses.

According to SBTC, the reason for not providing an estimate of the number of drivers and CMVs that would be operating under the exemption is that SBTC is a trade group, not a single carrier. The SBTC argued that a trade group would not know the number of employees eligible for the exemption.

The SBTC deferred that question to the agency because FMCSA is the custodian of MCS-150 industry data and the SBTC believes that it has identified the percentage of carriers that would be affected by the exemption but does not know a way to extrapolate the number of drivers from the estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. without deferring to FMCSA for that information.

To ensure an equivalent level of safety, the SBTC suggested a return to paper logs.

“Paper logs were deemed sufficient to ensure adequate levels of safety for generations, more than 80 years,” the SBTC said in the application for reconsideration. “And the FMCSA has already issued numerous exemptions that require carriers to revert to tracking their Hours of Service using paper logs in lieu of ELDs.”

The agency said the SBTC supported its argument with the belief that ELDs have caused reckless speeding and pose national security threats.

The SBTC said it was urging the FMCSA to look carefully at the unintended consequences of the ELD rule when deciding whether or not to grant the exemption. SBTC also suggested that FMCSA temporarily grant the exemption “if for no other reason than to press the pause button while the FMCSA studied these “unintended consequences and their adverse effects on safety. “We contend this would indeed achieve a greater level of overall safety than the current status quo.,” the SBTC said.

To submit comments online, go to www.regulations.gov and put the docket number FMCSA-2019-0239′ in the “Keyword”’ box, and click “Search.”’ When the new screen appears, click on “Comment Now!”’ button and type your comment into the text box in the following screen. Choose whether you are submitting your comment as an individual or on behalf of a third party and then click submit.

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. JAMES LAMB

    November 10, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    To file a comment in support of the SBTC ELD Exemption Application (Round 2), click this link: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FMCSA-2019-0239-0001 A simple comment like “I support the SBTC’s ELD exemption request” is all you really need to say.

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The Trucker Newspaper – February 15, 2020 – Digital Edition

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Fleet Focus: ELDs push drivers to find ways to remain ‘productive’

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trucks and cars in traffic
Prior to ELDs, two hours stuck in traffic went down as a half-hour driving and an hour-and-a-half break at the truck stop, or the start time was simply adjusted to show beginning the trip much later. (The Trucker File Photo)

The crescendo has passed, but the symphony of protest against electronic logging devices (ELDs) is far from over. Despite the objections and barring a legislative turnaround of epic proportions, ELDs are here to stay.

Whether the claims of enhanced safety provided by ELDs prove true, and so far they have not, carriers have a vital interest in protection against the “nuclear” verdicts being handed down in courtrooms. With paper logs, they had less control over the driver’s actions. Hours of Service infractions and falsifications that could potentially seal a verdict against the carrier might not be discovered until weeks afterward, when the logs were sent in. And, if the driver was good enough at “creative” logging, those infractions might not be discovered at all.

Full disclosure: during a driving career, the writer may or may not be responsible for years of near-perfect duty status records that may or may not have been routinely (and beautifully) falsified.

For most drivers, and especially owner-operators, it was important to “preserve” as many driving hours as possible in order to be productive (and profitable). So, two hours stuck in traffic went down as a half-hour driving and an hour-and-a-half break at the truck stop, or, the start time was simply adjusted to show beginning the trip much later. Recorded driving hours were calculated by dividing miles traveled by a reasonable “average” speed, usually five or so miles below the posted speed limit — but only when the result was fewer hours than actually spent driving that distance. Daily hours didn’t start until the truck was nearly loaded, foregoing the short drive from the truck stop and hours of waiting.

ELDs have greatly reduced infractions and falsifications, and made it easier for
carriers to identify those that still occur much sooner. Some will say that ELDs can still be falsified, but it’s also easier for both carriers and law enforcement to monitor.

What has happened is that ELDs have brought to the surface something that drivers have known for decades — industry abuse of the driver’s working time has been rampant and mostly ignored. It’s amazing how many carriers suddenly became concerned about driver “productivity” when ELDs made it more difficult for drivers to “hide” non-productive hours. Dispatchers are no longer able to give wink-and-nod direction to “just do the best you can,” trusting
the driver to make the paper logs look right.

With ELDs in place, drivers and owner-operators need to find other ways to remain productive. That action might include becoming much more assertive when it comes to control of those available hours.

Refusing dispatch, for example, is a legal descriptor of being an independent owner or contractor. Drivers should consider more than just miles and compensation rates when a load is offered. For example, loads traveling shorter distances are often less productive, especially when there’s a pickup and a delivery on the same day. The rate per mile offered should be greater than for longer loads.

Potential traffic should be considered, too. A pickup scheduled for 8 a.m. in the center of a large metropolitan area virtually guarantees waiting in traffic congestion, whereas a pickup in a suburb, or in a smaller city, might get the driver in and out much faster.

Customers who routinely take excessive amounts of time to load or unload can and should be avoided. Even if the customer or carrier pays for detention time, the amount is often far less than the driver earns during hours spent driving down the highway.

In a world where compensation is usually calculated by the mile, drivers are often unaware of how their settlements equate to hourly pay. They shouldn’t be. Owners should keep a record of the total time spent on a load as well as compensation received. A load with 10 hours of driving that is loaded in an hour and unloaded in an hour means 12 hours invested. Make it four hours to load and four more to unload, and the time investment becomes 20 hours. Divide the revenue received by the time spent (12 hours or 20) and the resulting earnings per hour may differ greatly. The answer may be good to know the next time that load is offered.

Managing a trucking business, even a one-truck outfit, is often a series of trade-offs. Owners must sometimes accept a not-so-good load to get in position for a better one or to get to needed maintenance (or a visit home). Even so, every load offered should be examined for its productivity potential.

The impact of ELDs on productivity is real. Owners of small trucking businesses can minimize that impact by considering potential productivity on every load offered and by exercising the power of NO when necessary.

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$225 million purchase enables C.H. Robinson to acquire Prime Distribution Services

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CH Robinson acquires Prime from Roadrunner
Roadrunner Transportation Services has sold its subsidiary, Prime Distribution, to C.H. Robinson for $225 million

Late last month, C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. announced its acquisition of the Prime Distribution Services business from Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc. C.H. Robinson paid $225 million to acquire the carrier and incorporate it into its distribution network.

Prime, of Plainfield, Ind., offers retail consolidation service, including distribution, fulfillment and inventory management to approximately 140 customers. The company was founded in 1990 and manages five fulfillment centers across the country, including 270 employees and 2.6 million square feet of distribution facilities. Prime’s 2019 revenue was $108.7 million.

C.H. Robinson CEO Bob Biesterfeld stated in a press release, “Prime Distribution Services is a high-quality growth company that brings scale and value-added warehouse capabilities to our retail consolidation platform, adding to our global suite of services.”

From Roadrunner Transportation System’s perspective, the sale of Prime will allow the company to move forward with financial confidence. “The divestiture of Prime Distribution Services is a unique opportunity for us to significantly improve our balance sheet,” Roadrunner CEO Curt Stoelting said. “We believe we are well-positioned to execute our strategy of simplifying our portfolio by investing in our remaining Ascent Global Logistics, Active On-Demand and asset-light less-than-truckload segments.”

C.H. Robinson, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., has over $20 billion of freight under its management and processes 18 million shipments annually.

The sale is not Roadrunner’s only effort to change its business model in light of a 2017 accounting scandal and weakening freight demand in 2019. In December, Roadrunner sold its flatbed business unit for $30 million in cash to an undisclosed buyer. A month prior, the company announced the sale of its intermodal business to Universal Logistics Holdings for $51.25 million in cash.

Biesterfeld, in his comments on the acquisition, said, “Prime has an outstanding track record of success, a talented and experienced team and a focus on delivering great value to its customers and carriers.” The acquisition will integrate Prime into C.H. Robinson’s North American Surface Transportation division following the sale’s closing, expected by March 31.

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