ALEXANDRIA, Va. (October 10, 2017) -- Last week, the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) learned that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to formally grant a portion of TRALA's petition for relief from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate for short-term rentals. 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (October 10, 2017) -- Last week, the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) learned that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to formally grant a portion of TRALA's petition for relief from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate for short-term rentals. FMCSA will grant rental trucks operating eight or fewer days to have complete relief from the ELD Mandate and instead, drivers will be required to complete paper logs, but drivers of rental vehicles operating longer than eight days will be required to function under the ELD Mandate.

TRALA President and CEO Jake Jacoby met with FMCSA leadership on Oct. 5 at their request to explain their decision. While TRALA had the support of all its members, the vast majority of the trucking industry, as well as the diverse customer base that utilizes rental trucks, the agency explained that they had to couple that with a strong desire to make sure the mandate could be enforceable and to not deviate too much from a congressional directive. 

The formal decision by FMCSA will be announced in the Federal Register tomorrow. It can be viewed by clicking here.

While TRALA regrets that its petition - to allow trucks rented for 30 days or less be exempted from the ELD Mandate - was not accepted fully, having the ability to operate rental trucks for eight days without requiring an ELD will help alleviate some problems that would have existed had TRALA's petition been denied outright - especially for addressing break-downs.

The key problems TRALA envisions are administrative and logistical in nature, which FMCSA has acknowledged. During the meeting on Oct. 5, FMCSA told TRALA that the ELD Mandate would allow drivers to combine HOS records from their own ELD platform with the one provided by a truck rental company even if they are different systems. Unfortunately, this likely would result in every driver having to manually log his/her HOS information by combining two systems. This could cause significant loss of time and would require drivers to learn a whole new ELD operating system all to fulfill HOS reporting for short-tern rentals. TRALA believes these hurdles fly in the face of the Trump administration's goal of having fewer harmful regulations and to have those regulations that are implemented be as efficient as possible.

In response to TRALA's concerns, FMCSA has agreed to hold a conference call with TRALA members next week to answer specific questions on how this decision would work from a practical and logistical standpoint.

Background Information:
As background, on Dec. 10, 2015, FMCSA announced that it had finalized its rule to mandate ELDs in commercial trucks. The rule requires drivers who currently are mandated to file hours-of-service (HOS) documentation, to do so through electronic means that connects directly to a vehicle's engine. TRALA had identified a major problem within the mandate impacting short-term rentals early on in the process and met with FMCSA officials to discuss our concerns. Given the technological problems as well as the logistical and costly effects this mandate would place on TRALA members and their customers, particularly small businesses and fleets, TRALA submitted a formal petition on Nov. 1, 2016 to FMCSA requesting relief for trucks rented 30 days or less for a period of five years - to allow the possibility that technology could catch up within that time period to work more seamlessly with rental trucks.

It became clear to TRALA after speaking with industry experts that the ELD Mandate would be unworkable for the short-term rental sector of the trucking industry until technology was perfected that allowed different systems to speak to one another. Even though the vast majority of TRALA-member customers would be exempt from the rules (due to the 100-mile and 150-mile radius exemptions), a certain percentage of those customers are mandated currently by HOS regulations and do not fit into any existing exemption. Thus, in effect, the ELD rule would require that every truck in a company's rental fleet be retrofitted and equipped with an ELD to ensure compliance, whether or not the rental customer needs to utilize the technology.

In its petition, TRALA cited the technical reality that ELDs are not interoperable across multiple telematics platforms currently. Another concern raised in TRALA's petition was in regard to a breakdown - and this will be addressed by the new FMCSA ruling. Lastly, the lack of interoperability could require seasonal and short-term customers that must keep track of their hours to purchase year-long ELD subscriptions even if their rentals occur once a year for less than 30 days. This is neither cost effective nor practical for the rental customer and it puts small businesses at a huge disadvantage.

TRALA's exemption would have allowed commercial rental trucks which are not covered by the 100-mile or 150-mile radius exemptions to continue to use paper logs when reporting their HOS. Because the exemption request only applied to short-term rentals, the driver would have been able to show a valid rental agreement as proof during a road-side inspection and then the inspector would know to look at the paper logs. This would have saved time during an inspection and removed any doubt as to why the driver was using paper logs because there are already rules in place for trucks under a rental agreement for 30 days or less that law enforcement follows.

TRALA was in touch with telematics companies, fleets, and customers to gauge the possible technology advancements that may be made in the future that would allow plug-and-play ELDs that are interoperable in nature to come into existence allowing even rental trucks to utilize them for themselves and their customers. At this time that technology is not proven nor are very many companies even working on the idea because the focus to this point has been on getting the equipment ready for the mandate's deadline since the vast majority of trucks on the road are not commercial rentals. TRALA plans to work hand in hand with all telematics companies that are at the forefront of developing interoperable technology.

TRALA's petition was published in the Federal Register by the FMCSA on March 22, 2017. The 30-day Public Comment period for TRALA's exemption petition closed Friday, April 21, 2017. The final tally resulted in approximately 300 total comments with less than 10 of those comments in opposition to TRALA's petition. 

For more information regarding FMCSA's decision, contact Jake Jacoby at (703) 299-9120 by phone or at by email.