Regulators give relief to Werner during ELD transition

Federal regulators are helping Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN) transition from Omnitracs to Platform Science electronic logging devices (ELDs) by temporarily exempting the carrier from certain data requirements as it makes the switch.

The exemption, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on July 6, acknowledges “incompatibility issues” between Omnitracs and Platform Science, and will therefore allow the company to leave blank five required data fields in the electronic records of duty status (RODS) files during the first eight days that each driver at Werner transitions to the new ELD.

“The Agency has determined that the limited exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level that would be obtained in the absence of the exemption,” FMCSA stated. The exemption expires one year after publishing in the Federal Register, scheduled for July 7.

Werner, Omnitracs and Platform Science were all winners of FreightWaves’ 2020 FreightTech 100 awards.

Werner Enterprises Vice President of Safety and Compliance Jamie Maus pointed out that after pioneering ELDs in 1998, Werner had logged over 18 billion miles on them before the rest of the trucking industry was required to adopt ELDs to record hours of service (HOS) beginning in December 2017.

The decision to upgrade in-cab telematics “was made to ensure that our drivers have the most current in-cab technology to make their jobs easier,” Maus told FreightWaves. “The new device provides intuitive workflow, enhanced communication, and up-to-date navigation with traffic and weather information. Making the change to this new device requires that Werner switch from its current hours of service and electronic logging device provider to a new company.”

In further explaining the need for a temporary exemption, Maus noted that during the initial industry move from paper logs to ELDs, there was no need to worry about an electronic transfer of the 8 days of logs because paper logbooks were maintained during the transition period.

“However, when moving from one electronic logging system to one provided by a different company, the hours of service records will look like the driver has a fresh set of hours, even though he or she may have driven and/or worked during the prior 8 days.”

FMCSA received 18 comments on Werner’s request, including support from the American Trucking Associations, Commercial Vehicle Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA), California Trucking Association and Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).

In its support, TCA emphasized that FMCSA should expect “an increasing number of similar requests” as carriers seek new options from ELD providers.

“We encourage the Agency to either produce clarifying guidance for carriers who also wish to conduct their ELD transition without resorting to paper logs, or to issue an industry-wide rule allowing for carriers to utilize this flexibility to guarantee their drivers are complying with hours-of-service regulations,” TCA wrote.

Michael Crites of Kelso, Washington, was one of 12 commenters who opposed the ELD transition relief.

“Absolutely no exemption should be granted to any carrier. Especially one that pushed for the ELD mandate,” Crites wrote. “They need to be held responsible for not having their act together. If this was any other carrier they would be held liable. Many other outfits have done exactly what was required of them. This is a multimillion-dollar company. They have no excuse for this.”

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