The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has garnered the support of over two dozen Congressmen in the form of a letter from them to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that encourages the agency to grant OOIDA’s pending application for a 5-year exemption from the electronic logging device mandate for small trucking businesses with exemplary safety records.
Specifically, OOIDA has requested at least a 5-year exemption for motor carriers classified as small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration, and that have a proven safety history with no attributable at-fault crashes, and that do not have a Carrier Safety Rating of “Unsatisfactory.”
The Feb 1 letter to FMCSA by Reps. Brian Babin (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA) and co-signed by another 23 Representatives, calls OOIDA's request “responsibly constructed” as it focuses “only on carriers defined by the Small Business Administration as a small-trucking business” and that have “a record of no at-fault crashes would be exempted.
“By sustaining impeccable safety records, the motor carriers that would qualify have already demonstrated the use of an ELD will do nothing to improve their operations,” continue Babin and King. “Futhermore, OOIDA's request would prevent small trucking businesses, who operate on the slimmest of margins, from maintaining costly fleet management devices that provide them no economic or productivity benefits.”
The Congressmen also make something of an all-for-one and one-for-all argument, pointing out that “FMCSA has already granted several requests for exemption from the ELD mandate. Clearly, the agency is capable and willing to provide relief for industries who have demonstrated that exemptions will not decrease safety. In this regard, OOIDA's application for exemption is unquestionably consistent with those previously granted and merits the agency's approval.”
In addition, Babin and King note that they view OOIDA’s request as “wholly consistent with the Trump Administration's goal of providing relief from costly and burdensome federal regulations to American small businesses.”
Reading the Political Tea Leaves
It should be noted, too, that, at least in the letter, they give no indication that they currently support or would support or introduce any ELD-related legislation at this time. That begs the question of whether the Congressmen’s advocacy is the vanguard of a groundswell of support within the Republican-controlled Congress to amend or discard the ELD rule that was put on the books during another majority GOP Congress.
Given that much of the trucking industry’s lobbying power was behind getting the ELD rule put in place in the first place and everything else that’s on Capitol Hill’s plate for the rest of this year— including immigration reform and infrastructure spending— it’s highly doubtful any legislation to reform the ELD rule will make any headway in 2018.
What is even more certain is that if the Democrats take back control of just one chamber or even just sharply cut the Republican edge in the House in this year’s midterm elections, trucking won’t see any safety regulations getting rolled back for at least the next two years, if not longer.