No evidence ELDs have improved safety, OOIDA says

November 11, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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Electronic logging devices have not improved highway safety, and truck drivers continue to have privacy concerns, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said in comments to the FMCSA.

“Our members have vigorously opposed the ELD mandate since its inception,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer. “There was never sufficient research indicating the mandate would improve highway safety, and the agency still lacks data demonstrating any positive safety results since its full implementation.”

In September, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requested feedback from truckers about how it can improve the ELD mandate. The agency is still accepting comments through Nov. 15.

As of Nov. 11, FMCSA had received more than 1,000 comments. Many of them have been from truckers, echoing OOIDA’s points about the mandate not improving safety. Full enforcement of the electronic logging device mandate began in 2018. Since 2017, fatality crashes have risen by 14.5%.

FMCSA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking considers changes to the ELD mandate in five areas:

  • Applicability to pre-2000 engines.
  • Addressing ELD malfunctions.
  • The process for removing an ELD from FMCSA’s list of certified devices.
  • Technical specifications.
  • ELD certification.

“OOIDA notes that this proposal is largely focused on expanding an unproven ELD mandate, whether by including drivers operating currently exempted equipment or increasing the types and frequency of data recorded by the devices,” the Association wrote. “It is disappointing the agency continues to ignore the genuine concerns drivers have with the recording and monitoring of their individual activities and movements.

“Drivers remain unsure of who can access ELD information, how long it is retained and what is done with it once compliance has been assessed. This primarily relates to manufacturers, but drivers are increasingly concerned about roadside inspections, when enforcement officers not only access but also transmit ELD records.”

Pre-2000 engines

As part of the notice, FMCSA asked truck drivers for feedback on the original mandate’s decision to exempt trucks with pre-2000 engines.

“Should FMCSA reevaluate or modify the applicability of the current ELD regulation for rebuilt or remanufactured CMV engines or glider kits?” the agency asked.

OOIDA says no.

“The agency lacks data confirming the ELD mandate has improved highway safety and has failed to demonstrate how the expansion of existing requirements to vehicles operating on pre-2000 and rebuilt pre-2000 engines would enhance safety,” the Association wrote. “OOIDA is unaware of any research that demonstrates vehicles operating under the pre-2000 exemption fail to meet the same level of safety as vehicles with ELDs.”

Addressing ELD malfunctions

The current regulation requires a driver to switch to paper logs when his or her ELD malfunctions. The driver is required to follow the motor carrier and ELD provider recommendations when a data diagnostic event is logged. Whenever an ELD fails to record the hours, the driver must have paper logs available for law enforcement. If the ELD malfunctions but still records the time accurately, a driver should not switch to paper logs.

FMCSA wants feedback on whether it should amend carrier and driver responsibilities to clarify when a driver must switch to paper logs.

“The agency must work with enforcement to ensure motor carriers and drivers are not penalized when ELD failures and malfunctions beyond their control lead to inconsistencies in records,” OOIDA wrote.

Removal process

As part of the mandate, companies were allowed to self-certify their ELDs. This has led to some confusion, and the agency wants feedback on the best way to remove a provider from the certified list.

“Motor carriers are generally not informed by an ELD provider when it has gone out of business and fails to self-revoke,” OOIDA wrote. “If the agency is aware of these changes, more must be done to inform motor carriers that their devices may be removed from the registry. The agency must also work with enforcement to ensure motor carriers are not penalized for using a revoked ELD within the 60-day replacement period.”

Technical specifications

The agency is considering adding the following data elements to every event:

  • Actual odometer reading
  • Shipping document number
  • Actual engine hours
  • Trailer number
  • Location description
  • Driver
  • Geo-location
  • Co-driver, if applicable
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Power unit
  • Which driver was operating the commercial vehicle at the time

OOIDA reminded the agency that the ELD mandate is allowed only to record a driver’s hours of service.

“Many of these factors are not necessary to determine compliance with hours-of-service requirements, which, by law, remains the sole purpose of the ELD mandate,” OOIDA wrote. “Requiring these elements to be captured by ELDs would unreasonably expand the scope of the mandate.”

ELD certification

The agency wants input on whether or not the agency should establish a certification process for ELDs.

“If a certification process is established, how should existing devices be treated?” FMCSA wrote.

OOIDA wrote that a comprehensive certification process is long overdue.

“It has become abundantly clear the decision to allow self-certification has been a major disservice to motor carriers, as faulty and ultimately noncompliant devices have been listed on the agency’s registry,” the Association wrote. “While mandating the use of ELDs, the federal government must take the necessary steps to ensure all devices listed on the registry are complaint.”

How to comment

The public has through Nov. 15 to comment on the notice. To do so, click here or go to Regulations.gov and enter Docket No. FMCSA-2022-0078. LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior 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 more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.