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Tuesday, July 25, 2017 8:40AM CDT
By Mary Kennedy
DTN Basis Analyst

On Tuesday, July 18, a bill to delay the compliance date of the ELD (electronic logging device rule) for two years to December 2019, was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives and referred to the House Appropriation's Subcommittee on Transportation. The bill asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to consider delaying the implementation of ELD, giving owner-operators two additional years to switch from paper logs to an electronic logging device.

The ELD rule is intended to create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording. FMCSA notes that drivers not required to use ELD, unless they so choose, include drivers who use paper logs no more than eight days during any 30-day period, "driveaway-towaway" drivers (transporting an empty vehicle for sale, lease, or repair), and drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

The bill to delay ELD implementation, H.R.3282, was introduced by Congressman Brian Babin, R-Texas. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the only national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers said on their website, "We appreciate Congressman Babin's leadership on this issue. While we still believe the ELD mandate should be outright repealed, FMCSA simply isn't ready to implement this rule."

The OOIDA has challenged the ELD mandate more than once in court, calling the ELD devices "arbitrary and capricious," and saying it violates fourth Amendment rights against "unreasonable searches and seizures." OOIDA contends that requiring electronic monitoring devices on commercial vehicles does not advance safety since they are no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording compliance with hours-of-service regulations. A three-judge panel on the appeals court ruled against a March 16, 2016, lawsuit in October 2016. On June 12, 2017, the OOIDA reported that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would not be reviewed.

The OOIDA issued a Call to Action on their website this week, encouraging its members to support the delay legislation. "After months of meeting with lawmakers and explaining the harmful impacts ELDs will have on small-business truckers, OOIDA believes the passage of this bill is our best chance to defeat the mandate. We are now at a critical stage where adding Congressional co-sponsors to the legislation will help the delay get signed into law and we need your help. Please contact your representative and tell them to co-sponsor H.R. 3282 today."

TRUCKING ALLIANCE: "NO VALID REASON" TO DELAY ELD

Lane Kidd, managing director of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, also known as the Trucking Alliance, sent DTN the following press release voicing concern over any delays in implementation of the ELD mandate. The joint statement was given by Steve Williams, president, and Kevin Knight, vice president, respectively, of the Trucking Alliance, the leading proponent of safety reforms in the freight transportation industry.

"There's no valid reason to delay this much-needed truck safety measure. In fact, the FMCSA is doing an admirable job to meet the timeline by December 17, 2017, the date which requires that all commercial interstate trucks install these electronic devices. Mandated by Congress in 2012, these ELDs will track and verify the number of hours that commercial drivers are behind the wheel. ELDs will keep drivers from falsifying paper logbooks, reduce truck driver fatigue, and lower the number of large truck accidents on the nation's highways."

The Trucking Alliance sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in April, warning that certain small segments of the trucking industry would try and delay this important safety measure. "The recent House appropriations committee's action appears to bear this out."

In that letter, the Trucking Alliance noted, "FMCSA has evaluated the inherent safety benefits that accrue to carriers that utilize ELDs -- an 11.7% reduction in crash rates and a 50% reduction in hours-of-service violations. Further, the agency estimates that after ELDs are fully installed in all interstate commercial trucks, 1,844 large truck crashes will be avoided, reducing hundreds of injuries and saving the lives of at least 26 people each year."

The letter also stressed that truck drivers have a difficult job that requires a deep sense of responsibility. "They must meet the expectations of both their employer and the shipping customer. Yet their work ethic and commitment to perform well are often placed at cross purposes, either directly or indirectly, with expectations that force them to extend their work hours beyond what the human condition can safely and legally perform. ELDs will provide all commercial drivers with a method to withstand these pressures."

"In conclusion," said Williams, "the ELD rule is one of several current safety reforms that must be adopted to reduce large truck accidents, injuries and fatalities. Our industry shares the highways with millions of people each day. We must keep the public's trust, by ensuring the public that commercial drivers are properly trained, rested, drug and alcohol free and compliant with the law. The ELD rule is critical to achieving that goal. Industrywide compliance will ensure that the nation's commercial truck drivers are rested, safer and more secure in their jobs."

In order for bill H.R.3282 to survive, it must be passed by the House and Senate and finally, signed by President Donald Trump. Given the recent reports that the Trump administration has withdrawn or delayed 860 proposed regulations in its first five months, it remains uncertain if the ELD mandate will be affected. Stay tuned.

FMCSA has listed specific exemptions covering the Agriculture sector in regard to the ELD rule that can be found here under "Hours of Service and Agricultural Exemptions": https://goo.gl/…

Here is a link to the FMCSA website of all ELD FAQs: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/…

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

(CZ/BAS)


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