[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 209 (Tuesday, October 29, 2019)]
[Pages 57932-57934]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-23561]



Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2019-0239]

Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; Small 
Business in Transportation Coalition

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of application for exemption; request for comments.


SUMMARY: FMCSA announces that the Small Business in Transportation 
Coalition (SBTC) seeks reconsideration of its application for exemption 
from the electronic logging device (ELD) rule that was denied by the 
Agency on July 17, 2019. SBTC has 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 believes 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 (HOS) regulations as well 
as the requirements to maintain paper records of duty status (RODs). 
FMCSA requests public comment on SBTC's application for 

DATES: Comments must be received on or before November 29, 2019.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Federal Docket 
Management System (FDMS) Number FMCSA-2019-0239 by any of the following 
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. See the 
Public Participation and Request for Comments section below for further 
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Each submission must include the Agency name and the 
docket number for this notice. Note that DOT posts all comments 
received without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information included in a comment. Please see the Privacy Act heading 
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit Room W12-140 
on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. The on-line FDMS is available 24 hours each 
day, 365 days each year.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records

[[Page 57933]]

notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/privacy.

Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle 
Safety Standards; Telephone: (202) 366-4325; Email: [email protected]. If 
you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, 
contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.


I. Public Participation and Request for Comments

    FMCSA encourages you to participate by submitting comments and 
related materials.

Submitting Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this 
notice (FMCSA-2019-0239), indicate the specific section of this 
document to which the comment applies, and provide a reason for 
suggestions or recommendations. You may submit your comments and 
material online or by fax, mail, or hand delivery, but please use only 
one of these means. FMCSA recommends that you include your name and a 
mailing address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of 
your document so the Agency can contact you if it has questions 
regarding your submission.
    To submit your 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 submit. If you submit your 
comments by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no 
larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic 
filing. If you submit comments by mail and would like to know that they 
reached the facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard 
or envelope. FMCSA will consider all comments and material received 
during the comment period and may grant or not grant this application 
based on your comments.

II. Legal Basis

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Regulations (FMCSRs). FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption 
request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must 
provide the public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant 
to the application, including any safety analyses that have been 
conducted. The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public 
comment on the request.
    The Agency reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, 
and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a 
level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application 
and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving 
the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is 
granted. The notice must also specify the effective period and explain 
the terms and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed 
(49 CFR 381.300(b)).

III. Background

    On December 16, 2015, FMCSA published the Electronic Logging 
Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents final rule (80 FR 
78292). The ELD rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers who are 
required to keep RODS. The compliance date for the ELD requirement was 
December 18, 2017.
    On June 5, 2018, FMCSA published SBTC's application for exemption 
and requested public comment (83 FR 26140). SBTC reports it is a non-
profit trade organization with more than 8,000 members. SBTC states 
that it ``represents, promotes, and protects the interest of small 
businesses in the transportation industry. Through the exemption 
application, SBTC sought relief from the ELD requirements for small 
private, common and contract motor carriers with fewer than 50 
employees.'' SBTC argued:

    ``[T]he ELD rule is not a ``safety regulation'' per se as the 
FMCSA has concluded. Rather it 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, namely the actual safety 
regulation: the [hours-of- service] regulations codified at 49 CFR 
395.3 and 395.5. However, the ELD rule is not a safety regulation 
itself. Therefore, it is our position that this rule does not itself 
impact safety, and that the level of safety will not change based on 
whether or not our exemption application is approved. That would 
require a change to the [hours-of-service rules].''

    On July 9, 2018, FMCSA extended the public comment period at the 
request of the SBTC (83 FR 31836). The Agency received more than 1,900 
comments to the docket [Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0180]. Most of the 
comments favored granting the exemption. On July 17, 2019, the Agency 
published notice of its decision to deny SBTC's application for 
exemption (84 FR 34250) and listed the following reasons for the 
     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 [49 CFR 381.310(b)(2)];
     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 [Sec.  381.310(c)(3)]; and
     Failing to explain how an equivalent level of safety would 
be achieved [Sec.  381.310(c)(5)].

IV. Request for Reconsideration of Agency Decision

    Through this application SBTC is requesting FMCSA to reconsider its 
denial of the exemption from the ELD rule. SBTC provided responses to 
each of FMCSA's reasons for denying its application. 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. SBTC argues that a trade group would 
not know the number of employees eligible for the exemption. SBTC 
deferred that question to the Agency because FMCSA is the custodian of 
MCS-150 industry data. 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.
    A copy of SBTC's application for reconsideration of the Agency's 
denial is available for review in the docket for this notice.

V. Equivalent Level of Safety

    To ensure an equivalent level of safety, SBTC suggests a return to 
paper logs. According to SBTC, ``Paper logs were deemed sufficient to 
ensure adequate levels of safety for generations, more than 80 years. 
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 . . .'' SBTC supports its argument with the belief that 
ELDs have caused reckless

[[Page 57934]]

speeding and pose national security threats. SBTC urges FMCSA to look 
carefully at the unintended consequences of the ELD rule when deciding 
whether or not to grant the exemption. SBTC also suggests that FMCSA 
temporarily grant the exemption ``if for no other reason than to press 
the pause button while [FMCSA] studies 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 

    Issued on: October 23, 2019.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2019-23561 Filed 10-28-19; 8:45 am]