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Sunday, March 3, 2024

ATA Informs FMCSA No Delay for ELDs

American Trucking Associations has sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expressing their staunch opposition to any effort that would delay the December implementation deadline for electronic logging devices.

“Over the past week we have heard from our members, loudly and clearly, that they are vehemently opposed to these attempts to delay this important regulation,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president of advocacy.

“The industry stands ready and is prepared to implement ELDs. As our letter explains, it is incumbent on regulators and on Congress to dismiss this last-ditch try by some to evade critically important safety laws.”

Sullivan argues, “With the December deadline approaching, opponents of electronic logging are making one last attempt to influence policymakers to reconsider the impending implementation deadline. These efforts are misguided, are supported by misinformation, and are simply an attempt to evade compliance with the existing laws and regulations governing duty hours and driver fatigue.”

In the ATA’s letter to Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson, Sullivan states
“This technology has proven effective in improving safety and increasing compliance many times. FMCSA’s 2014 report titled “Evaluating the Potential Safety Benefits of Electronic Hours-of-Service Recorders,” found that carriers using an ELD saw an 11.7 percent reduction in crash rate and a 50 percent drop in hours-of-service violations over carriers using traditional paper logs.

This and other evidence has convinced ATA and many other industry supporters, along with law enforcement, Congress, FMCSA and numerous federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which became the most recent court to reject arguments opposing the ELD mandate, to support the ELD final rule.

Supporters of a delay are attempting to accomplish, almost at the 11th hour, what they’ve been unable to do in the courts, Congress or with the agency: roll back this common sense, data-supported regulation based on at best specious and at worst outright dishonest arguments.”

Sullivan rebutted the reasoning of those attempting to delay implementation with the following arguments:
• ELDs infringe on drivers’ right to privacy: The ELD regulation simply requires drivers to record their hours-of-service by a different means – an electronic device versus pencil and paper. Drivers must already show their paper logs at the request of law enforcement, and ELDs simply transmit that same information electronically, so claims of privacy infringement are unfounded – the only difference is in how drivers are recording and reporting their hours-of-service. To address the alleged privacy issues, FMCSA has built in privacy and harassment protections into its rules, protections that have satisfied Congress and the federal courts.
• Based on when this rule will go into effect – mid-December – it will prevent important holiday shipments from arriving on time and adversely affect Americans’ holidays: The hours of service rules have not changed. ELDs do nothing but ensure compliance with the hours-of-service rules. The ELD final rule does not add any new limits on the number of hours a driver can drive in a day or work in a week. It is irrational to believe that the only way America’s holiday gifts can be delivered is by maintaining an antiquated paper system of recording hours-of-service.
• Drivers say they will change careers if the ELD mandate comes into effect: The American economy depends on the 3.5 million professional drivers in our industry. These drivers make sure our store shelves are stocked and our factories are supplied. Many of these drivers already use ELDs, so the argument that drivers will quit en masse doesn’t hold water. In fact, ATA members repeatedly tell me that after initially resisting using ELDs, their drivers now swear by the technology and refuse to work without it. This is because ELDs save drivers’ time by lifting the burden of 15-20 minutes spent manually calculating and recording their hours-of-service, reduce HOS violations by eliminating the numerous so-called “form and manner” violations and increase compliance with hours-of-service rules.

Sullivan also pointed out that ATA feels ELD’s are more accurate, easier to access and most importantly, more difficult to falsify, 21st Century technology to demonstrate compliance with the HOS rather than an easy-to-falsify, error prone and 18th Century technology of a paper and pencil.

He goes on to say he believes the reason some oppose ELD’s “are because they intend to cheat on their hours-of-service. Arguments against the ELD mandate are arguments in favor of violating the hours-of-service rules. If the hours-of-service rules are believed to be inappropriately limiting, that is a policy debate I’m sure the agency can address. Suggesting that it is overly burdensome to use an electronic device to log compliance with hours-of-service rules that don’t change whatsoever in December is a false argument.”

Sullivan summarizes the ATA’s position by saying the organization strongly supports FMCSA’s electronic logging device mandate, and urges Congress to not interfere in the Agency’s efforts to improve safety by meeting this important regulatory deadline.