Tick-tock. The countdown to the ELD mandate is only five days away.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new rules require truck drivers to now use an electronic logging device (ELD) to track their service hours. ELDs work by monitoring and recording data directly from a truck’s engine.
Some trucking companies already use ELDs. However, many owner-operators and small trucking businesses still use paper logs, and are concerned that the cost of installing and maintaining the devices could force them out of business.
Legal challenges brought by industry groups earlier this year failed to overturn or delay the ELD mandate. So now drivers who oppose it are turning to nationwide protests.
On December 4, coalitions of owner-operators and other drivers organized protests across the U.S. Their goal is a delay, and ultimately a repeal, of the mandate before it takes effect on December 18.
Owner-operator Binda Atwal organized protests in Fresno, CA. In North Carolina, drivers held a rally at Bill’s Truck Stop in the city of Linwood. In Nashville, TN, a group of drivers gathered at the downtown Travel Centers of America. And on December 5, about 30 trucks parked in front of the Department of Transportation to demonstrate in opposition of the rule.
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Concerns Over ELD Reliability, Cost
Many drivers and trucking company owners worry about the reliability of ELDs. According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, neither the FMCSA nor any third-party testing program has validated any of the devices listed on the FMCSA’s website.
Curtis Hill, Jr., the Attorney General of Indiana, sent a letter to the FMCSA outlining these concerns. “With manufactures of ELDs currently responsible for ‘self-certifying’ their compliance with government standards … drivers and operators are left without any way of ascertaining what brands and models of devices will ultimately pass muster,” he said. “They must ‘fly blindly’ into investing in products they are being required to purchase.”
The cost of switching to the devices also has many truck owners worried. The FMCSA estimates that switching all drivers over to the new system will cost the trucking industry $975 million per year.
And that number only covers installation and maintenance of ELDs. The estimated cost of adding enough drivers and trucks to ensure compliance with service-hour rules is $604 million.
Not All Companies Oppose The ELD Mandate
Some trucking company owners and drivers do welcome the new mandate. On July 21, the American Trucking Association (ATA) sent a letter to the FMCSA opposing any efforts that would delay the mandate from going into effect in December.
“The industry stands ready and is prepared to implement ELDs,” said Bill Sullivan, the ATA’s executive vice president of advocacy. “It is incumbent on regulators and on Congress to dismiss this last-ditch try by some to evade critically important safety laws.”
Barring a delay in the new rules going into effect, time is running out for any fleet owners who haven’t yet purchased and installed ELDs in their trucks. The FMCSA’s list of registered ELDs is here.
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