Trucks.com

Trucking Companies Prepare for the Imminent ELD Mandate

An in-cab ELD display. (Photo: PeopleNet)

There’s almost no chance that the electronic logging device, or ELD, mandate won’t start Dec. 18 as planned.

That’s the consensus of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which is charged with enforcing the rule. CVSA is working to get law enforcement up to speed before the rule kicks in.

“It’s almost negligible at this point that it will be delayed,” Collin Mooney, executive director at CVSA, told Trucks.com.

ELD training of approximately 13,000 commercial vehicle inspectors will begin in late October or early November. The inspectors selected to receive face-to-face training from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials will be responsible for passing the knowledge on to their jurisdiction using a “train-the-trainer format,” Mooney said.

Other training activities are currently available, including online materials on the FMCSA website and planned events geared toward helping drivers transition to ELDs. Everything in place now will help aid preparation for the December deadline, said Duane DeBruyne, spokesman for FMCSA.

Independent truckers and fleets have had nearly two years to prepare for ELDs since the final rule was published in December 2015 based on a congressional mandate, he said. The ELD mandate did not change federal hours-of-service regulations that limit how much time a trucker can drive.

“Nobody can say they didn’t know this day was coming,” DeBruyne told Trucks.com.

The ELD devices link to a semi truck’s engine, capturing the movement and recording how much time a trucker spends behind the wheel. By law, drivers are limited to 11 hours of daily driving.

There are approximately 3.5 million truckers on the road today, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Total Quality Logistics, or TQL, a large freight brokerage firm headquartered in Cincinnati, is offering its network of more than 60,000 motor carriers a 20 percent discount if they choose KeepTruckin as their ELD provider.

The reason behind the discount was to ease the burden of finding an ELD provider for motor carriers, said Kerry Byrne, president of TQL.

“Carriers who haven’t yet selected an ELD provider should start taking a hard look at their options ASAP,” Byrne told Trucks.com. “From technology integration to new operational constraints, the ELD learning curve will certainly have a significant impact on all carriers.”

More than 100 ELD providers have self-certified their products on the FMCSA website. This is an improvement from November 2016 when only 15 providers had registered.

If the devices meet the technical specifications issued by FMCSA, the providers are “placed on the self-certified list,” DeBruyne said.

No devices have been revoked for not meeting the agency’s technical specifications, and no complaints have been filed, he said.

Penalties for truckers who fail to meet Dec. 18 deadline

Truckers won’t immediately be put out of service or told to stop driving if they don’t comply with the ELD mandate by the December deadline, according to CVSA. Instead, the safety alliance is allowing a grace period up to April 1 before it begins to apply the out-of-service criteria related to the pending regulation.

However, if stopped for a roadside inspection on or after Dec. 18, truckers without an ELD device will have violation points added to the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability, or CSA, scoring program, Mooney said. The fewer points accrued in the CSA scoring program, the better.

Non-compliant drivers also may face fines on or after the Dec. 18 deadline issued by the state enforcement agencies that handle roadside inspections. The fine amounts may vary state to state.

Missouri set its fine for ELD non-compliance at $172, Delaware’s fine amount is $110, and Colorado’s is $67, according to state agency officials.

The ATA, which counts many large fleets as its members, supports the mandate.

“Our society rewards people who comply with the law,” Chris Spear, president and chief executive officer of ATA, told Trucks.com. “Those who continue to believe they are above the law should face consequences if they continue to flout it.”

ELD mandate faces fierce resistance from independent truckers, trade groups

Many ATA members have been running E-logs for several years now.

But the regulation has encountered fierce resistance from independent drivers who believe the devices will be intrusive.

In a last-ditch effort to stall the ELD mandate, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is urging its members to support a standalone bill, HR 3282, introduced by Republican Brian Babin of Texas. The bill is aimed at delaying implementation for two years until December 2019. The bill, which has been parked in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure since it was introduced July 18, has 49 co-sponsors.

Fourteen industry trade associations, including OOIDA, have written a letter supporting Babin.

“We remain adamant that the ELD mandate should be repealed,” the letter said. It also stated that their members would be “negatively impacted.”

There have been three previous attempts by OOIDA to delay implementation of the ELD mandate.

Another move spearheaded by Babin came through an amendment to the 2018 appropriations package. It failed by a vote of 246 to 173 in early September.

In June, the Supreme Court decided not to consider a petition to overturn the ELD mandate.

In October 2016, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rejected the trade group’s argument that ELDs would violate truckers’ privacy and foster carrier harassment over driving hours.

The ELD mandate could improve safety on the roads. Though the estimated cost is approximately $2 billion, the FMCSA estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually by keeping tired truckers off the road.

Switching to electronic logs also is expected to eliminate more than $1.6 billion in paperwork costs for motor carriers and law enforcement agencies reviewing drivers’ logs, according to the FMCSA.

Read Next: Will Feds Take on States in Trucking Jurisdiction Fight?