FMCSA denies unusual request for ELD and HOS exemption for pet owners

Pets

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 who travel with pets.

On October 16, the FMCSA announced that the agency planned to pass on a proposal issued by the trucking group Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) asking for regulatory relief for truckers with pets.

The SBTC petition was filed in March of 2020. In the petition, the SBTC asked the FMCSA to allow property carrying drivers with pets for an exemption to allow them to use paper logs rather than ELDs. The petition also asked for exemption from current HOS requirements to allow truckers with pets to drive up to 13 hours during a work shift and to operate within a 16 hour window within which all driving tasks would be completed.

Though the SBTC pointed to several issues within the trucking industry as justification for the request for extra flexibility, one of the most pertinent arguments presented was the need to stop frequently to allow domestic animals to exercise or relieve themselves.

The FMCSA noted that 130 of the 165 public comments that they received were in favor of SBTC’s proposal. However, the 35 commenters who opposed the proposal included the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), and the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).

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.”

From the TCA: “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. However, while we are supportive of the driver’s right to have a pet in the truck, TCA opposes both exemptions requested by SBTC.”

Ultimately, the FMCSA found that the SBTC’s petition “does not meet the regulatory standards for an exemption” and that the group “proposed no countermeasures to ensure an equivalent or greater level of safety than would be achieved under compliance with the current rules.”