While FMCSA missed its early June target for publishing proposed changes to the Hours of Service (HOS) rules, STC continues to track developments in this area. One such development is FMCSA’s June 7, 2019 approval of an exemption request by RJR Transportation, which allows the company to extend the 100 air-mile radius HOS recordkeeping exemption for its drivers to 150 air-miles. RJR transportation hauls dedicated freight out of Northern California and, while most of its drivers operate within the 100-mile radius, a portion of the company’s fleet faced the prospect of installing ELDs to accommodate drivers whose dedicated runs take them between 100 and 140 miles from their normal work reporting location.
FMCSA has acknowledged over the last year that implementation of the ELD rule has placed pressure on the Agency to consider ways to insert additional flexibility into the HOS rules. By extending the 100 air-mile exemption to 150 air miles, consistent with a longstanding exemption in the HOS rules for non-CDL CMV drivers, FMCSA could provide additional recordkeeping flexibility.
It appears the approval of RJR Transportation’s exemption request may foreshadow what’s to come from FMCSA. When the proposed HOS rule changes are published in the next few weeks (late June or perhaps early July 2019), STC expects FMCSA to propose extending the 100 air-mile radius to 150 air miles for all types of drivers. If so, this proposed change could allow more drivers to be exempt from ELD use.
(Note: FMCSA’s cost-benefit analysis accompanying its 2015 ELD rule stated that approximately 600,000 drivers were exempt from ELDs based on current short-haul driver exemptions).