ELDs to be or not to be?

A.M. Transport - Leaders in Third-Party Logistics

ELDs to be or not to be?

Written By: Erik Jensen, CTB

The long-awaited electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is slated to come into effect on December 18, but as the date gets closer, the battle between the supporters and detractors of the upcoming law is increasingly contentious.

The supporters of the mandate continue to state how beneficial ELDs are for carriers and their drivers.  Through ELDs, carriers are able to track their drivers with GPS tracking, and as we all know, this has become an expectation in our industry. The benefits aren’t limited to just tracking, though, as ELDs are also connected to the vehicle’s diagnostic port, which allows fleets to stay on top of any vehicle maintenance issues.

ELDs will also benefit drivers through reduced paperwork, allowing them to spend more time behind the wheel—and thus safer roads. The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will help save 26 lives every year.

Seems like a home run, right? Not so fast.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and a number of small carriers are fighting hard to stall the mandate from going into effect in December. These groups are seeking clarifications on the technical specifications and enforcement aspects of the mandate and feel that implementation should be delayed until these specifics are clarified.

OOIDA and other carriers argue that the mandate violates truckers’ amendment rights to privacy by tracking them in real time—not to mention the financial burdens it will put on small carriers and owner-operators to purchase and maintain ELDs.

The fighting and lobbying doesn’t stop there. They recently got Congress involved.

Just a couple weeks ago, U.S. Representative Brian Babin of Texas introduced a bill in effort to delay the implementation of ELDs by at least two years. Babin feels forcing smaller carrier fleets to implement these devices is unfair to small businesses.

In a story on trucker.com, Babin said, “While technology like ELDs have great promise, I didn’t come to Washington to force these ideas on small businesses – and neither did President Trump.”

Babin followed this up saying, “If trucking companies want to continue implementing and using ELDs, they should go right ahead. But for those who don’t want the burden, expense and uncertainty of putting one of these devices in every truck they own by the end of the year, we can and should offer relief.”

Babin’s bill and comments were met with disdain by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), who fully supports the upcoming mandate.

ATA’s executive vice president of advocacy, Bill Sulllivan, released a statement saying, “It is incumbent on regulators and on Congress to dismiss this last-ditch try by some to evade critically important safety laws.”

Sullivan went on saying the mandate is “common sense, data-supported regulation” and the arguments against it are “at best specious and at worst outright dishonest arguments.”

ATA also cited an 11.7% drop in crash rates and 50% drop in Hours of Service violations when carriers switched from paper logs to ELDs, according to a 2014 administration report compiled by the department of transportation.

So who is going to win this battle? No one knows for sure, but if one had to guess, the money would be on the mandate going into effect as planned in December.

In an article published on Transport Topics website, staff reporter Eugene Mulero expounded on the subject and said Babin’s bill is “pretty much dead on arrival, since it lacks support from GOP leadership, a Senate companion bill, and backing from the White House.”

In other words—good luck to those wanting to delay the implementation mandate. The next couple months promise to be interesting. Stay tuned for more news.

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