The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently denied a trucking trade group’s request for exemption from Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Hours of Service (HOS) rules for drivers traveling with pets.
In March , the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) filed a Request for Exemption (RFE) on behalf of truckers with pets and service animals asking the FMCSA to provide “humane” relief from the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate. They are also seeking an exemption for HOS requirements, asking that drivers with pet companions be allowed to drive up to 13 hours during a work shift. Not only but also, to operate within a 16-hour window, which extends beyond the current driving limits.
“FMCSA should reward these drivers for their safe operation by extending their day so they can take multiple rests for the comfort and convenience of their pets and to avoid fatigue,” the coalition wrote in a 10-page, March 2 letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “Please eliminate the ELD requirement for them as it only causes them anxiety.”
From the CVSA: “In their application, SBTC requests that drivers traveling with pets be exempt from the electronic logging device (ELD) requirement and that they be allowed to extend the 14-hour period to 16 hours and the maximum allowed driving time from 11 hours to 13 hours. If granted, the requested additional driving and on-duty time will expose drivers to a greater risk of fatigue, putting themselves and the public at risk and the ELD exemption would make adherence to the hours-of-service rules much more difficult to verify. The hours-of-service framework is put in place to prevent this type of excessive driving that causes fatigue.”
FMCSA acknowledged that close to 80% of the 165 comments favored the exemption. However, in support of its decision to deny SBTC’s request, FMCSA emphasized comments from several groups, including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).
FMCSA also asserted that SBTC failed to offer countermeasures “to ensure an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved under compliance with the current rules.”
“We appreciate the immense value these beloved ‘family members’ bring to those drivers, and we see individual carriers’ pet policies as a significant way for them to differentiate themselves and recruit talent which may find that benefit attractive,” TCA wrote.
In addition, revisions to the HOS rules that went into effect on Sept. 29 to add more flexibility for drivers did not allow drivers additional driving time beyond the current 11-hour limit or the 14-hour duty day, it stated.