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Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

Raymond P. Martinez
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
15 April 2019


[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 72 (Monday, April 15, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 15282-15283]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-07436]


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

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0299]


Hours of Service of Drivers: Application for Exemption; Fiat 
Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

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 Fiat 
Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) for an exemption from the requirement that 
its drivers use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to record their hours 
of service (HOS). FCA requested the exemption for all its operators of 
commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) including engineers, technicians, and 
other drivers who operate CMVs on public roads. FMCSA analyzed the 
exemption application and the single public comment submitted, 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 the exemption.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Richard Clemente, FMCSA Driver and 
Carrier Operations Division; Office of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle 
Safety Standards; Telephone: 202-366-2722. 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(a)). 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)).

III. Request for Exemption

    FCA's commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) include RAM trucks and other 
product families, which, when configured with a trailer, have a gross 
combination weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds. When operated in 
interstate commerce, this subjects the company and its drivers to 49 
CFR parts 300-399, including the hours-of-service (HOS) rules. 
Procedures and processes are in place to ensure that only FCA and 
supplier employees with an active driver qualification file operate 
these vehicles. In any given year, up to 100 FCA employees may be 
involved in driving its CMVs on product development off-site road 
trips. All of its engineers and technicians are infrequent drivers who, 
on average, drive fewer than 2,500 miles a year on public roads. 
Additionally, all Engineering Groups conduct off-site road trips to 
evaluate systems and components to support future product development 
activities. Including non-CMV support vehicles, FCA normally sends 
between 8 to 12 vehicles with 4 to 5 trailers. This type of trip would 
include up to 20 drivers (engineers and technicians) who possess either 
a commercial driver's license or a chauffer's license. Most road trips 
involve a smaller number of vehicles and drivers, and according to FCA, 
a significant amount of testing occurs while the vehicles are 
stationary.
    FCA's product development activities encompass working with 
suppliers on validating engineering redesigns for future vehicles. FCA 
tests ``next generation'' vehicles against competing products from 
other original equipment manufacturers in dynamic settings. FCA 
estimates that 85% to 90% of such testing occurs on site at its 
facilities or proving grounds, and the remaining testing occurs off 
site on public roads. Specifically, FCA conducts tests to benchmark 
vehicles against competing brands, and some of these programs involve 
calibration and thermal validation of complete vehicle systems at 
various locations in the United States and Canada. On occasion, the 
instrumented vehicles and trailers are shipped to the off-site testing 
location, and on other occasions, FCA's engineers, technicians and 
suppliers drive these vehicles to the off-site test locations. None of 
its CMVs are involved in package delivery or passenger transportation.
    FCA has already tested several portable electronic logging device 
(ELD) units and found that the devices interfere with the ability of 
FCA's data loggers to capture high-speed data from vehicle control 
modules and networks for critical vehicle validation. Furthermore, the 
devices cause the logger to suspend all message transmissions in error. 
As a result of its

[[Page 15283]]

detailed investigations on this matter, FCA has concluded that 
utilizing paper records of duty status (RODS) and/or an HOS compliance 
application other than an ELD is the most effective and accurate method 
of measuring and reporting HOS in a manner compatible with FCA's data 
loggers. FCA further includes a number of exhibits which demonstrate 
the problems described in the application when utilizing ELDS. The 
Company also includes HOS and other general compliance forms currently 
used to remain in compliance with the appropriate Federal Motor Carrier 
Safety Regulations.
    A copy of FCA's application for exemption is available for review 
in the docket for this notice.

V. Public Comments

    On October 18, 2018, FMCSA published notice of this application and 
requested public comment (83 FR 52870). The Agency received one comment 
from an individual in opposition to the FCA exemption request. Excerpts 
from this comment were as follows: ``Fiat's request creates a growing 
burden on the FMCSA's partners that enforce the Federal Motor Carrier 
Safety Regulations. Part 395.8(a)(1)(iii)(A)(1) has an exception from 
the ELD and for a driver to use a paper log for eight days in any 30-
day period. If the staff at Fiat is doing 80%-90% of the work on its 
closed courses where no log is required then the exception in the 
regulation should be more than sufficient, i.e., 80% of 31 days is 24.8 
(25 days) meaning a driver would use a paper log for six days below the 
eight-day limit. . . . [R]oadside officers must attempt to try and keep 
track of the numerous exemptions allowed by the FMCSA. . . . The more 
exemptions that exist decreases [sic] the public's safety as carriers 
abuse the safety regulations. . . . Fiat could utilize the exception in 
Part 395.8 and avoid burdening the system with one additional 
exemption. Fiat should have to substantiate that utilization of the 
exception in Part 395.8 is not practicable and creates a significant 
burden on the organization.''

VI. FMCSA Decision

    When FMCSA published the final rule mandating ELDs, it relied upon 
research indicating that the rule improves CMV safety by improving 
compliance with the HOS rules. The rule also reduces the overall 
paperwork burden for both motor carriers and drivers.
    In its application, FCA provides no analysis of the safety 
performance of drivers who would operate using paper RODS under the 
exemption. FCA provides no analysis of how the risk of fatigue and 
crashes while operating a CMV without an ELD would be equivalent to the 
risk posed by operating a vehicle with one installed.
    The FCA application does not consider practical alternatives or 
provide an analysis of the safety impacts the requested exemption may 
cause. It also does not provide countermeasures to be undertaken to 
ensure that the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety 
equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by the 
current regulation. Furthermore, based on the information provided in 
their application, FCA may qualify for the general short-haul (8 days 
in 30) exemption from ELDs. For these reasons, FMCSA denies FCA's 
request for an exemption.

    Issued on: April 8, 2019.
Raymond P. Martinez,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2019-07436 Filed 4-12-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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