FMCSA Denies Association of Energy Service Companies Request to Use Paper RODS versus ELD
The FMCSA Decision
AESC requested this exemption to allow all drivers of well service rigs to complete paper RODS instead of using an ELD whenever the drivers exceeded the requirements of the short-haul exception. According to AESC, complying with the ELD requirement would be overly burdensome for well service rig contractors without providing any measurable safety benefit. AESC further explained that well service rig drivers spend very little time on public roads, in contrast to long-haul truck drivers who spend most of their on-duty hours driving on public roads. FMCSA reviewed the application and the 8 public comments submitted. On June 16, 2018, FMCSA denied AESC's application for exemption because the Agency could not ensure that the exemption would provide the requisite level of safety.
Association of Energy Service Companies' Request for ELD Exemption
AESC is requesting an exemption on behalf of well service rig contractors from the requirement in 49 CFR part 395.8(a) that motor carriers ensure their drivers use ELDs in place of written logs to record their duty status for each 24-hour period. The term of the requested exemption is for five years, subject to renewal. According to AESC, complying with the ELD requirement would be overly burdensome for well service rig contractors without providing any measurable safety benefit. The drivers of well service rigs hold commercial driver's licenses and typically operate under the short-haul exception. While drivers must record their duty status on paper on any day they exceed the requirements of the short-haul exception, the changes that take effect on December 18, 2017, would require drivers to use an ELD whenever they exceed the 8 in 30-day threshold HOS exception.
AESC contends that without the exemption well service rig contractors would have to monitor the number of days their drivers exceed the requirements of the short-haul exception, including if a driver exceeded the short-haul exception on any day in a rolling 30-day period immediately before the employer hired the driver. Contractors would have to purchase ELDs, train the drivers on their usage and monitor compliance.
AESC explained that well service rig drivers operate under different circumstances than long-haul truck drivers. Well service rig drivers spend very little time on public roads, in contrast to long-haul truck drivers, who spend most of their on-duty hours driving on public roads. Depending on the service required at the oil well, a well service rig spends two to five days parked at a single location or sometimes longer. The oil well serves as the daily work reporting location, and the well service rigs remain stationary at that location until the job is completed.
AESC asserts that exempting well service rig contractors from the ELD requirement would have no impact on safety for several reasons. First, drivers would continue to maintain written RODS logs on any day that they exceed the requirements of the short-haul exception. Second, drivers typically spend little time on public roads. Third, contractors are required to maintain time records for their drivers. Fourth, contractors and drivers otherwise must comply with the HOS requirements.
AESC further asserts that a level of safety that is equivalent, or greater than, the level of safety obtained by complying with the regulation will be maintained by continuing the practices already being exercised in the industry. AESC reports that one current method of ensuring safety is the process of a contractor obtaining a permit from the State prior to driving the well service rig on a public highway. Well service rigs are then provided an escort as they move to their next location.