- Henry Seaton
FMCSA extends UPS partial ELD exemption to other drivers
Drivers who need to change their duty status away from their commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) will be able to do so if they are using portable electronic logging devices (ELDs) under a new exemption granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In response to an exemption application by UPS, FMCSA grants exemptions to allow (1) all motor carrier and drivers that use portable, driver-based ELDs to record engine data only when the driver is in a CMV and the engine is powered, and (2) all motor carriers to configure an ELD with a yard-move mode that does not require a driver to re-input yard-move status every time the tractor is powered off.
However, FMCSA rejected a UPS request to apply an alternative method for grandfathering automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) and phasing in ELDs. The carrier had wanted to be able to treat entire locations as AOBRD-grandfathered so that individual UPS locations would not necessarily have to adopt two separate compliance systems as the carrier added trucks. FMCSA said suggested that the rule's fleetwide approach to grandfathering already represents a compromise as the agency decided not to require full interoperability between ELDs and AOBRDs in the final rule because of the complexity and cost.
FMCSA also dismissed as unnecessary a UPS exemption request to allow vehicle movements of less than one mile on UPS property by non-CDL UPS drivers to be annotated as “on property—other.” The agency noted wash and fuel employees who do not operate CMVs on public roads are not subject to the HOS regulations and, therefore, are not required to use ELDs anyway.
Recording duty status changes
Under the ELD rule, certain data elements -- including data from the engine's electronics -- to be automatically recorded when an authorized user logs in or out of an ELD or changes duty status. A driver's indication of special driving status is to be reset to none (except in the case of personal use) if the ELD or CMV's engine goes through a power-off cycle.
UPS, which pays most drivers by the hour, noted that under the collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Union, drivers use electronic devices and punch in for work on those devices while still in the dispatch building. Similarly, drivers do not clock out until after they exit the vehicle and walk into the UPS dispatch office. The pre- and post-trip inspections also occur before drivers enter and after they exit the vehicle, respectively. Typically, UPS drivers spend about 24 minutes prior to entering the vehicle and 22 minutes after exiting the vehicle while still on the clock. UPS cannot both comply with both the collective bargaining agreement and the requirement that an ELD record tractor data when a driver logs in or out or otherwise changes duty status while outside of the vehicle.
FMCSA said it agrees that it is not necessary for portable, driver-based ELDs to record engine data elements when the driver is not in the CMV. Under the exemption, if a driver using a portable, driver-based ELD logs in or out or changes duty status away from the vehicle and without the vehicle powered, the driver will simply annotate the ELD record to indicate the appropriate duty status in accordance with section 395.30. If a driver is in the vehicle and the vehicle is powered, the portable, driver-based ELD must automatically record the data elements specified in section 395.26. The exemption will not affect driving time, and the the data elements that will not be recorded by the ELD at a change of duty status or log on/log out of the ELD while away from the vehicle are not critical if the driver properly annotates the ELD record to indicate the proper duty status as required, FMCSA said.
Special driving mode for yard moves
Under the ELD rule, carriers can configure ELDs to authorize drivers to indicate that they are operating CMVs under certain special driving categories, including authorized personal use and yard moves. Drivers must select the applicable special driving category on the ELD before starting operations in that status and deselect it when the indicated status ends. Also, drivers must reset their yard-move statuses to none if either the ELD or CMV engine goes through a power-off cycle.
UPS asked that it be allowed to use a special driving mode for yard moves that would not require a driver to repeatedly indicate that status. Most UPS feeder drivers must complete yard moves as part of their scheduled work and most move trailers that are already sitting on uncoupled on yards as well as coupling or uncoupling inbound and outbound trailers. Drivers might move as many as 10 loads per hour within the yard.
As a safety precaution, UPS drivers must remove the keys each time they exit the tractor, so they must power the tractor down to couple a trailer and power it down again to uncouple. Strict compliance with the ELD rule would require drivers to manually change duty status twice for every move they complete in the yard. UPS estimates that its annual cost for a single button push (0.35 second) at each of these yard move ignition cycles would be about $460,000. Moreover, driver and administrative time would need to be spent reconciling records if drivers fail to appropriately record yard move time.
UPS asked for an exemption to allow drivers to select “yard move” status and remain in that status until the driver (1) inputs driving status; (2) exceeds 20 mph; or (3) exits the geo-fenced yard.
FMCSA noted that it had considered this issue in the rulemaking and decided to adopt the current rule on the premise that requiring status changes during each ELD and/or engine power off cycle would not lead to a significant increase in inputs and reduced the potential for misuse of the off-duty yard-move status. Now, based on the information provided by UPS and the carrier's proposed controls, FMCSA agrees that permitting all motor carriers to configure ELDs with a yard-move mode that does not require a driver to re-input yard move status every time the tractor is powered off will ensure that drivers operating under the yard-move status will achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level that would be obtained under the regulation.