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Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; MBI Energy Services (MBI)

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking

Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; MBI Energy Services (MBI)

Daphne Y. Jefferson
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
20 October 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 202 (Friday, October 20, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 48882-48883]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-22834]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2017-0166]


Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; MBI 
Energy Services (MBI)

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition; denial of application for 
exemption.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to deny the application of MBI 
Energy Services (MBI) from the requirement that a motor carrier install 
and require each of its drivers to use an electronic logging device 
(ELD) to record the driver's hours of service (HOS) no later than 
December 18, 2017. MBI had requested the exemption for all of its 
vehicles equipped with a single-passenger cab, which are used in 
applications where travel is incidental to normal work activities and 
which require special oversize/overweight permits to travel on public 
roads. FMCSA has analyzed the exemption application and public 
comments, and has determined that the applicant would not achieve a 
level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that 
would be achieved absent such exemption. FMCSA therefore denies MBI's 
application for exemption.

DATES: FMCSA denies this application for exemption effective October 
20, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information concerning this 
notice, contact Mr. Thomas Yager, Chief, FMCSA Driver and Carrier 
Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety 
Standards; Telephone: 614-942-6477. Email: MCPSD@dot.gov. If you have 
questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact 
Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs). FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in the 
Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the 
public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the 
application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. 
The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the 
request.
    FMCSA reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, and 
determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level 
of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reason for the grant or denial, and, if granted, 
the specific person or class of persons receiving the exemption, and 
the regulatory provision or provisions from which exemption is granted. 
The notice must also specify the effective period of the exemption (up 
to 5 years), and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The 
exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Request for Exemption

    MBI is a provider of water management logistics and well-
intervention services in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, 
and Colorado. The requested exemption would affect 65 MBI Energy 
Services drivers operating 42 single-cab vehicles classified in North 
Dakota as Special Mobile Equipment (SME). These vehicles meet the 
definition of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in 49 CFR 390.5 and 
therefore are subject to the ELD or AOBRD mandate. These specialized 
vehicles perform various work activities in an environment where 
connectivity is limited, working and road conditions are rough, and the 
necessity for driving on public roads is sporadic and incidental to the 
overall work being performed. The vehicles may sit on work locations 
for long periods of time, up to weeks or even months. These vehicles 
are typically oversize and overweight, requiring special permits for 
transport. Many States do not require registration, as they build the 
registration fees into the permit process.
    Examples of SMEs meeting the definition of a CMV having a single 
cab include cranes, workover rigs, and swab units. Single cabs have 
reduced space for installing rough-terrain-capable AOBRDs or ELDs. The 
devices used must be capable of satellite communication where cell 
communication is poor to non-existent. The installation of rugged 
logging units, weighing more than typical units used in highway 
applications, would reduce driver visibility in an already large 
vehicle due to the limited space found in single-cab vehicles. 
Additionally, installation may require a unit being positioned over the 
driver's head, increasing the risk of the unit falling on the driver 
resulting in injury given the rough terrain upon which the vehicles 
travel or a vehicle accident involving the travelling public.
    While these vehicles normally travel little, business demand may 
require MBI vehicles to move more often than 8 days in a 30-day period, 
the maximum frequency allowed by 49 CFR 395.8(a)(1)(iii)(A)(1) for the 
use of paper RODS instead of ELDs. According to MBI, the current 
regulations do not address circumstances where the vehicle's exemption 
status is sporadic in nature, thus requiring MBI to install an ELD to 
remain compliant during times not covered by the exemption. While 
alternatives exist to industrial-grade logging units, the alternatives 
usually involve cell phones or cell-capable tablets where the terrain 
or remote locations of work may inhibit logging device communication 
for extended periods of time. Many worksites prohibit cell phone usage 
due to safety concerns. Additionally, installations in special vehicles 
will increase costs substantially due to the unusual configurations of 
single cab vehicles requiring specialized wiring harnesses and custom 
installation kits. MBI requested a 5-year exemption.

Public Comments

    On July 10, 2017, FMCSA published MBI's application for exemption 
and requested public comment (82 FR 31798). The Agency received five 
comments to the docket, from CMV drivers, a Commercial Vehicle Safety 
Alliance (CVSA) inspector, and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver's 
Association (OOIDA). All of the commenters opposed the MBI application 
for exemption. According to commenters, MBI's request would place a 
burden on law enforcement officers in tracking exceptions from the 
regulations and open the door for other oil field service companies and 
crane operating companies to request similar exception status. 
Commenters stated that the purpose of the ELDs is to force drivers and 
carriers to record their HOS

[[Page 48883]]

accurately due to years of abuse by the industry.
    All comments are available for review in the docket for this 
notice.

FMCSA Decision

    When FMCSA published the rule mandating ELDs, it relied upon 
research indicating that the rule improves commercial motor vehicle 
(CMV) safety and reduces the overall paperwork burden for both motor 
carriers and drivers by increasing the use of ELDs within the motor 
carrier industry, which will in turn, improve compliance with the HOS 
rules. The primary reason for denial of this exemption is that MBI did 
not demonstrate how, without using ELDs, they would maintain a level of 
safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level achieved without the 
exemption.
    For these reasons, FMCSA has denied the applicant's request for 
exemption.

    Issued on: September 28, 2017.
Daphne Y. Jefferson,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2017-22834 Filed 10-19-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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