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October 19, 2017 1:30 PM, EDT
FMCSA Grants UPS Several ELD Exemptions
PeopleNet ELD MCS Freight via YouTube

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will grant UPS Inc. temporary exemption from parts of the upcoming electronic logging device mandate, according to a document scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Oct. 20.

The federal ELD rule, published in December 2015, requires motor carriers who currently are required to maintain paper records of duty status to start using ELDs for hours-of-service compliance. The mandate takes effect Dec. 18.

FMCSA granted UPS several five-year exemptions in four chief areas, namely the use of automatic onboard recording devices during the “phase-in” process, as well as data collection methods for drivers who log out of an ELD while outside a vehicle, drivers who make yard moves and nondriver employees who operate vehicles.

FMCSA published notice of UPS’ application for exemption June 9. UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest North American for-hire carriers.

UPS requested continued use of the AOBRDs as the company converts its fleet to ELDs on a site-by-site basis. According to the company’s application, UPS oversees 2,800 tractors at 35 sites. Moreover, the company plans to purchase 1,530 new tractors in 2018.

FMCSA granted the request, as the agency’s safety regulations state “a motor carrier that installs and requires a driver to use an automatic onboard recording device before December 18, 2017, may continue to use the compliant automatic oboard recording device no later than December 16, 2019.”

However, the agency cautioned that if UPS replaces fleet vehicles, the company must install AOBRDs that were used in previous truck rather than purchase new ones.

FMCSA also granted a request for truck operators who use portable, driver-based ELDs. The application states that UPS drivers, on the whole, are paid by the hour and punch into work at UPS facilities, rather than in a vehicle. Because UPS drivers perform duties outside of their vehicles, such as attending meetings and walking to dispatch centers, workers technically are “on the job,” even when they are not behind the wheel of their trucks.

“In a typical UPS location, UPS drivers spend an average of 24 minutes prior to entering the vehicle and 22 minutes after exiting the vehicle on the clock,” UPS’ application states. “UPS cannot both comply with 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) and also comply with our bargaining unit contract and pay guidelines for our drivers.”

FMCSA agreed with UPS, stating that “it is not practicable” for an ELD to automatically record data when an authorized user logs into or out of an ELD if the device is not synchronized with the electronic control module in the vehicle.

UPS also requested an exemption that would allow its drivers to select “yard move” status for runs that occur on company grounds and remain in that status even if the vehicle’s ignition is cycled off and back on.

In its application, the company stated that the average UPS records-of-duty-status driver completes a minimum of nine yard moves per day, and given that a driver is required to manually enter the beginning and end of each yard move on the ELD, a driver could be required to enter manual changes of duty status as many as 20 times in an hour.

FMCSA stated 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 this status will achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level that would be obtained under the regulation.

The final exemption applies to workers, such as washers and fuel employees, who operate UPS trucks on copany property for reasons other than delivering freight. Specifically, UPS proposed that vehicle movements of less than 1 mile by wash and fuel employees, entirely on UPS property, be annotated on an ELD as “on property – other.” UPS stated that these miles could easily be identified using geofencing and time-card information for road drivers and other employees.

FMCSA granted the request because these employees do not operate trucks on public roads and are not subject to hours-of-service regulations.

“The agency has determined that granting these temporary exemptions would not have an adverse impact on safety, and that a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety provided by the regulation would be maintained,” FMCSA said in its Federal Register notice.