Time is running out for truckers still resisting a federal mandate to a digital device that tracks their driving time.
The new rule forces truckers to switch from the paper logs the industry has used since the 1930s to electronic logging devices, or ELDs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted the regulation in December but has provided a phase-in period through April 1. The soft launch gives truckers more time to comply with the regulation.
But it wasn’t a complete free pass. Some state enforcement officers began documenting ELD violations on roadside inspection reports in mid-December. But most have not levied fines. In some states, it’s up to the officer’s discretion whether to write a ticket for not having an ELD.
“We are using this time to educate drivers and warn them that on April 1 they will be put out of service if they don’t have an ELD,” said Capt. Chris Turner of the Kansas Highway Patrol.
The rule is intended to make sure truckers comply with a federal hours-of-service rule that limits driving to no more than 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday. Drivers must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
Some drivers have protested the regulation, saying that digital monitoring violates their privacy. But multiple efforts to overturn the regulation have failed.
Truckers now have until April 1 before state commercial vehicle inspectors start full enforcement of the rule. Those found in violation could be pulled off the road, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, or CVSA, an agency of approximately 13,000 inspectors in North America charged with enforcing the mandate.
“A small number of drivers have been receiving tickets for not having an operational ELD,” Collin Mooney, executive director at CVSA, told Trucks.com.
But most states are not fining drivers at this time.
For now, states have been directed to use a specific violation code — 395.22A — to track ELD compliance issues in the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System, or MCMIS, database.
ELD Enforcement Data
From Dec. 18, when the mandate took effect, until Jan. 26, enforcement officers in 47 states have conducted 12,524 ELD inspections for commercial trucks, resulting in 12,776 violations under 395.22A. Drivers can get more than one type of ELD violation in a single inspection. Some inspections have resulted in multiple violations. No data was recorded for Alaska, Illinois, Hawaii and the District of Columbia using that code on their inspection reports.
Texas, which has a high volume of truck traffic, logged the most ELD inspections and violations, according to the MCMIS database. Much smaller Rhode Island cited truckers the least — only three.
|Top states using 395.22A Violation Code||# of Inspections (Dec. 18-Jan. 26)||# of Violations (Dec. 18-Jan. 26)|
|3. Washington State||708||708|
While truckers claimed that inspectors were out in full force in December and January checking for ELD compliance, the total number of roadside inspections actually dropped 14.9 percent to 415,189 in the U.S. This is down from 488,070 inspections conducted during the same two months the prior fiscal year.
The number of inspections dropped in 39 states during December and January compared with the same two months a year earlier.
The switch from paper logs to ELDs is a challenge for both trucking veterans and commercial vehicle inspectors.
“For a lot of old-school troopers, who have been looking at paper logs for many years, this is also new for us,” Capt. Brian Preston of the Arizona Department of Public Safety told Trucks.com. “I am learning ELDs the same way the trucker who is going to use it is. I am just trying to make sure he’s using it right.”
Come April, enforcement of the federal mandate may be tricky in some states that have yet to adopt the federal rule. This means some states won’t be able to place motor carriers out of service if they haven’t installed an ELD as required in the mandate. However, they will still be able to cite truckers for hours-of-service violations.
Arizona is currently in the rule adoption process, but there’s no guarantee it will be completed prior to the April 1 deadline, Preston said.
“It puts us in a situation where our troopers could encounter a truck that’s required to have an ELD, but we wouldn’t be able to issue a citation,” he said.
California is in the same boat.
The state has yet to adopt the federal regulation.
“We have several layers of approval that any regulation needs to go through, so we don’t know what the timeframe for adoption will be,” CHP Sgt. Jamie Nunez told Trucks.com.
ELD Adoption Rate
In the past three weeks, the ELD adoption rate has been hovering around 90 percent overall, but still in the low 80s for “regional fleets,” which include small-business truckers, said Andrew Lockwood, senior manager of analytics at Kenco Group.
Being placed out of service for not having an ELD leads to “unhappy shippers and customers,” he said.
“While some may be still holding out, the polling data suggest that most have made the switch already,” Lockwood said.