ELD providers, can the complaints; you should have planned better

November 2019

Mark Schremmer

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First, the electronic logging device mandate prompted the need for hours-of-service reform. Now, if some ELD providers have their way, the mandate could be what delays truck drivers from getting the flexibility they need within the hours-of-service rules.

It’s a possible delay that truck drivers simply cannot afford.

During FMCSA’s second hours-of-service public listening session on Sept. 17, in Washington, D.C., an ELD provider told the agency it will take six months to a year after a final rule is in place to make the necessary changes to the device.

“(We understand) that the industry wants to get these implemented as soon as possible, but as an ELD provider we just wanted to let you know that it does take time,” said Susan Reszczynski, a lead training specialist at EROAD, an ELD company based in Oregon. “The ELD mandate took us a lot to build all that out. So, minimal, a six-month period and that’s depending on some of the complexities you may have … Minimum six months. A year would be fantastic.”

Any delay would, of course, be at the expense of the truck driver, as well as safety.

The ELD mandate was another expensive regulation handed down from Congress in the name of safety, although it has not delivered any quantifiable safety benefits.

If any good at all came out the ELD mandate it’s that it shined a light on the lack of flexibility within the hours of service.

In February 2018, OOIDA submitted a petition for hours-of-service reform that would put more control in the hands of the drivers. A few months after OOIDA’s petition, FMCSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

FMCSA then sent its notice of proposed rulemaking to the White House in March, but it sat at the Office of Management and Budget for months. Finally, the plan cleared OMB in August and was announced to the public. The plan for hours-of-service reform includes five changes aimed at providing drivers more flexibility.

Now, ELD providers might prevent truck drivers from getting the relief they need for even longer.

The FMCSA cannot allow this to happen.

To be fair, FMCSA and ELD providers both share some of the blame on this one.

The agency allowed ELD providers to self-certify, and the providers created the devices in a way aimed at “flagging” any violations a trucker may have made rather than just recording the information.

Larry Minor, FMCSA association administrator, discussed this issue at the agency’s first hours-of-service public listening session on Aug. 23 in Dallas.

“That’s one of the things that we’re continuing to work with the ELD vendors on,” Minor said. “That is that we don’t require the ELDs to designate whether something is or is not a violation, rather than just capturing what actually happened.”

Considering that FMCSA says the goal of ELDs should be to record a truck driver’s hours and not to flag a violation, ELD providers should not need another year to put the proposal into effect.

Drivers need more flexibility, and they need it now. They certainly don’t need ELDs getting in the way any more than they already have.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh encouraged FMCSA leaders to put the proposal into effect as quickly as possible.

“Moving forward from here, let’s not delay this any longer than we have to,” he said. “In the realm of highway safety, which is why this is all being done, why not make things better for the American truck driver and safer for general highway users sooner rather than later?”

And if ELD providers want to complain about the lack of time to implement the new rules, we can tell them what authority figures tell truck drivers all of the time when they run out of hours. They should have planned better. LL

 

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate editor, 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.