In The News

Road to December 18: Preparing for the ELD Mandate

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Jul 31st 2017 9:00AM

It’s official. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not hear a lawsuit by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) that challenges a DOT rule requiring truck operators to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) by December 18 to track their hours of service.

And while legislation was recently introduced in the House of Representatives attempting to delay implementation of the mandate, it’s not likely in today’s turbulent political climate that the bill would pass both the House and Senate and be signed into law before the ELD mandate is set to go into effect.

So, (as of press time) as the industry still marches toward full implementation by December 18, here are answers to questions you might have to help you get up to speed quickly about ELDs, with insights from industry veterans on the potential impact of the mandate on your expedite business.

What exactly is the ELD mandate?
An ELD automatically records and monitors driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. And trucking carriers are required to install ELDs on their trucks and ensure their drivers and administrative staff are trained to use them by the deadline that applies--December 18, 2017 for companies using paper logs or December 16, 2019 for those currently using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs).

(Click Here to read the ELD Final Rule, go to https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-12-16/pdf/2015-31336.pdf.)

What is the purpose for the mandate?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says that the ELD mandate, announced December 2015, is about saving lives by keeping exhausted drivers off the road.

The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually.

At issue, according to the FMCSA, is that paper logs can be easily altered to cover up instances when operators drive outside their allowable hours of service, putting themselves--and the public--at greater risk of a crash. And the paper logs have also created an environment where unscrupulous carriers can pressure drivers to drive beyond their allowable hours and change the logbooks after the fact to hide the violation.

As the Transportation Secretary at the time, Anthony Foxx, put it when announcing the mandate: “Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify. This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”

FMCSA also expects the ELD mandate will produce an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. And the mandate will also include protections that prevent commercial drivers from being harassed or pressured to drive beyond their allowable hours.

What are the main points you need to know about the ELD mandate?
In a nutshell, the mandate includes these four elements:

#1. ELD Adoption
Require operators of commercial trucks (10,001-lbs. gross vehicle weight rating or heavier) who currently use paper logs to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs by December 18, 2018.

#2. Anti-Harassment
Provide both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs.

#3. Technology Standards
Set technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems – and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.

The mandate permits the use of smartphones and other wireless devices as ELDs, as long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website.

#4. Documentation Standards
Establish new hours-of-service supporting document requirements (for shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, and so forth), resulting in additional paperwork reductions.

Who is exempt?
In most cases, operators of vehicles under 10,001 GVWR would be exempt. In the expediting world, vehicles that fall into this category are typically cargo vans.

Other exemptions 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).
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

Why is OOIDA fighting the ELD mandate?
Why has the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) challenged the mandate in the courts, ultimately appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court?

OOIDA says it’s concerned about the constitutionality of the mandate, saying that mandating ELDs is the equivalent of warrantless surveillance of truckers, violating their Fourth Amendment rights (to privacy).

“That intrusion on the rights of hard-working Americans cannot be justified. The mandate will not improve safety. It will, however, be another costly regulatory burden heaped upon an already over-regulated industry,” says Jim Johnston, president and CEO of OOIDA, in a statement in June after the Supreme Court decided against hearing OOIDA’s appeal .

The Federal courts disagreed. A decision written by Circuit Judge David F. Hamilton of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, ruling against OOIDA’s attempt to block the ELD rule, put it this way: “We find no Fourth Amendment violation. Whether or not the rule itself imposes a search or a seizure, inspection of data recorded on an ELD would fall within the “pervasively regulated industry” exception to the warrant requirement. The agency’s administrative inspection scheme for such information is reasonable.”

What’s the impact of the ELD mandate on expediters?
ExpediteOnline.com reached out to a few expedite industry veterans to get their take.

Greg Huggins, Owner-Operator
“I started using an ELD in October 2014 when I leased to Landstar Express America. I was a bit apprehensive at first since I used paper logs for more than 25 years prior. The transition was easy, and I would not want to go back to paper logs.

In terms of the impact the mandate will have on my business, I see it as getting everyone to play by the same rules, which may have an impact on capacity. I have no issues with the mandate; however, I do think the hours of service will become a bigger issue after the December 18 deadline.

As for the expedite industry as a whole, most of the larger expedite carriers have been using ELDs for quite some time, so the effect should be minimal. It may have a bigger impact on the smaller carriers, and I'm curious to see how the van segment will comply [with the mandate] in regards to hazardous materials shipments.”

Dave Corfman, Fleet Owner
"We have used ELDs basically since they came out via the carrier. They seem to be ok and no real issues from drivers on them when running teams. However, solo [drivers] have a tougher time because the 14-hour clock keeps running, which makes it difficult for them.”

Linda Caffee, Owner-Operator
“We started beta-testing [an ELD] unit in 2007 and immediately liked it. Most of expediting is done by teams and, as such, [the ELD mandate] really has no affect on us. The ELD is only a representative of a paper log, and most of the companies have had a very strict policy on running legal. So, my thinking is that the companies that run legal will be fine.”

 

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