FMCSA Denies National Electrical Contractors Association Request to Use Paper RODS versus ELD

The FMCSA Decision

NECA requested an exemption from the requirement to use an ELD on CMVs used by 4,000 contractor members who install, repair, and maintain the infrastructure of electrical utilities. NECA believes the ELD requirement burdens its members' operations unnecessarily. It proposed to continue to use paper logs to record their HOS.

FMCSA reviewed the application and the 275 comments submitted. Many of the comments were form letters in support of the application. On June 16, 2018, FMCSA denied the application. FMCSA was unable to determine from the application and the public comments whether operations under the requested exemption would provide a requisite level of safety.

National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Request for ELD Exemption

The HOS rules (49 CFR part 395) prescribe the drive-time limits and rest requirements for interstate drivers of CMVs. The rules also require most drivers of CMVs in interstate commerce, and their motor carriers, to use ELDs—not handwritten logbooks—to document their HOS duty status (49 CFR 395.8(a)(1)(i)).

NECA's 4,000 members are contractors who install, repair and maintain the infrastructure of electrical utilities. The contractors employ line workers who drive utility-service CMVs during their duty day. NECA states that the number of CMV drivers who would be eligible for this exemption is difficult to estimate; it states that the fleet of one “large” contractor consists of 13,766 CMVs.

NECA seeks exemption from the requirement that motor carriers and their CMV drivers use an ELD to record driver HOS. The actual operation of the CMVs by the line workers is so limited that the ELD requirement is triggered infrequently. By this application for exemption, NECA seeks greater “consistency” in the regulatory environment in which its line workers operate. It states that it is “cumbersome” to meet the costs and logistical challenges of recording HOS electronically, and that the resulting safety benefit is negligible given the limited scope of the CMV operations of this industry. NECA states that if provided the exemption, its CMV drivers would remain fully subject to the HOS standards and continue to record their HOS on the customary paper RODS. NECA states that its operations under the exemption would achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent the proposed exemption. A copy of NECA's application for exemption is available for review in the docket for this notice.

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