The deadline for the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate for truck drivers passed on December 18, 2017. Truck drivers organized grassroots protests, and industry groups mounted legal challenges. But in the end, no one was able to stop the ELD mandate (which requires truck drivers to electronically log their service hours rather than self-reporting them using paper logs) from going into effect.
About a month has passed since enforcement of the mandate started. So what effect has it had on the trucking industry so far?
How Many Drivers Complied?
According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), there are about 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States.
But the ELD mandate won’t affect them all. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put some exemptions in place. For example, drivers “who use paper RODS [Record of Duty Status] for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period” aren’t required to use an ELD. Nor are drivers of “vehicles manufactured before 2000.”
Regardless, a survey of drivers conducted both before and after the deadline hit painted a varied picture of who complied and who didn’t.
HELP Inc., a provider of weigh station technology services, conducted the survey online. 68% of the participants said they didn’t plan to install an ELD system before the deadline. And 31% said they didn’t plan to install an ELD at all.
ELDs And The Driver Shortage
Analysts predict a tighter job market for drivers whose trucks aren’t ELD compliant. “I’m seeing more firms saying they won’t load a non-ELD truck, and those companies and drivers will have a harder time getting business,” said Pete Emahiser, CEO of Tadmore Transportation.
As of the end of 2017, the ATA estimated a shortage of over 30,000 drivers. The organization expects that number to grow to 245,000 by 2022.
Confusion Over Compliance
There is still ongoing confusion about which ELD systems are compliant with the mandate.
The reason? While the FMCSA has a page listing more than a dozen “registered” ELDs, the agency hasn’t done independent testing on any of them. According to the agency, the devices are all “self-certified by the manufacturer.”
This has left fleet owners worried about purchasing a device, then finding out later that it was never compliant with the mandate.
The FMCSA reacted to these concerns by building a grace period into the mandate. If a fleet owner learns that her ELD system is not compliant, she has eight days to re-equip the company’s fleet. Only after that will the business incur penalties.
As discussed earlier, 31% of drivers who responded to an online survey said that despite the mandate, they didn’t plan to install an ELD system. What kind of penalties will those drivers face – the ones who aren’t already exempt from the rule, that is?
The FMSCA began documenting violations on roadside inspection reports as soon as the mandate went into effect on December 18, 2017. But inspectors who catch commercial drivers without an ELD won’t place them out of service right away. Instead, drivers without an equipped ELD won’t be placed out of service until April 1, 2018. Inspectors may still issue citations for hour-of-service violations, though.
According to GPS Insight, anyone who receives an “Hours of Service Record of Duty Status” violation will face a civil penalty of between $1,000 to $10,000 for each offense.
And failure to keep a driver log already carries an average fine of $2,867. The highest fine for a single violation of this type topped out at a whopping $13,680.
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