Back on the attack

OOIDA supports bills aimed at providing relief from ELD mandate

May 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is offering its support for a pair of bills that would provide relief to truck drivers from the electronic logging mandate.

Reps. Collin Peterson, R-Minn., and Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., introduced the Small Carrier Electronic Device Exemption Act and the Agricultural Business Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act in March.

The Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act, HR1697, would exempt businesses operating 10 or fewer commercial trucks.

The Agricultural Business Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act, HR1698, would exempt agricultural businesses from the ELD mandate. The lawmakers contend that transporting live animals and perishable products requires flexibility that the mandate does not allow.

“We appreciate the support of lawmakers like Congressmen Peterson and Gianforte, who understand the important role of small-business truckers, who make up the majority of the trucking industry,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said.

OOIDA has long opposed the ELD mandate and has questioned the claims that it has any safety benefits. A preliminary study released in January lends credence to OOIDA’s skepticism. The 41-page study by researchers from Northeastern University, the University of Arkansas, and Michigan State University found that the use of ELDs has not reduced crashes and may cause an increase in unsafe driving habits.

The study revealed that hours-of-service violations declined when the ELD mandate started light enforcement in December 2017 and fell further when stricter enforcement began in April 2018. However, the number of weekly truck crashes reported in the study went from 1,717 before the mandate to 1,912 during the light enforcement period and then to 1,703 after strict enforcement began.

While the number of hours-of-service violations dropped significantly, the number of crashes among owner-operators actually increased, the study said.

One interesting finding from the study was that drivers have specific information that could be useful when deciding whether to drive, which inflexible regulations cannot take into account. Basically, drivers know when they are tired and when they are not, and they know whether weather and traffic could increase the chances of a crash.

“This important legislation will eliminate regulations for small trucking companies and will help reduce unnecessary stops and delays, which threaten the agricultural products they help to transport,” Peterson said in a news release. “These bills are a win for small businesses in rural America and our farmers.”

Both bills were co-sponsored by Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont.

“Electronic logging devices are more Washington red tape that ties up truckers and puts livestock and Montana livelihoods at risk,” Gianforte said. “These bills will help reduce the unnecessary burden this federal mandate pushes onto Montana’s small trucking operations, farmers, and ranchers.”

Both bills were referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

On March 11, Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., also unveiled HR1673, which would clarify the definition of “agricultural commodity” as it relates to the ELD mandate and hours-of-service regulations.

“Currently, horticultural products have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other federal and state agencies as an agricultural commodity,” Scott’s news release stated. “However, horticultural and aquaculture products, such as nurseries, sod, turfgrass, and freshwater and saltwater aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms, are not included in the ‘agriculture commodity’ definition used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.”

Reps. Neal Dunn, R-Fla.; Al Lawson, D-Fla.; and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., are co-sponsors on Scott’s bill, which was referred to the subcommittee on Highways and Transit. LL

 

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.