WASHINGTON — An agency within the Department of Transportation has granted studios’ request to be exempt from a new safety rule mandating that trucks and commercial vehicles install electronic logging devices.
The devices are designed to make it easier for drivers to log hours, but they also can monitor when a driver is nearing the daily limit. Drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving after 10 hours off duty.
But industry representatives say that the rule didn’t make sense for the way that studio drivers do their jobs.
The MPAA noted in a filing with the DOT that “a production driver’s daily routine is very different from that of a driver making short- haul deliveries along a route or long-haul trips,” and that a driver may have short periods on-duty followed by a substantial amount of time performing other work or off duty.
The trade association also said complying with the rule to install the devices is complicated because “the industry is also freelance in nature, and when a production is taking place in their area, those drivers may find themselves working, in a seven or eight-day period, for more than one production-related motor carrier.”
The exemption could save the studios and production support millions from the need to install the devices.
The industry has a pool of about 6,500 full- and part-time commercial drivers in California.
Teamsters Local 399 also supported the exemption, and also said the freelance nature of the business would make it more difficult to use the devices. “Drivers can work for multiple mobile carriers in a 24-hour period,” Christopher Sell, business agent for the local, wrote to the Department of Transportation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said they were granting the exemption because of the “unique aspect” of the drivers’ operations, and because a paper logging system “provides an equivalent level of safety.”
The exemption runs through Jan. 19, 2023.