Adopting electronic logging devices is no longer an option for most interstate CMV operations. On December 16, 2015, the Federal Register published the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule on Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents. Proposed in early 2014 and revealed on December 10th by the FMCSA, the rule requires model year 2000 and newer trucks involved in interstate travel to start using ELDs by December 2017.
After a similar 2010 ELD rule failed due to litigation concerning harassment and supporting documents, the FMCSA learned its lesson. It has taken steps to explicitly prohibit the coercion of drivers and even took on authority to enforce the rule against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries—not just motor carriers. While the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Truck Renting and Leasing Association have raised concerns, responses to the 2015 Final Rule have largely been positive.
ELD Final Rule: Key Points
- Approximately three million commercial vehicle drivers will be impacted by the ELD mandate.
- There is a two-year compliance window for commercial truck and bus drivers to adopt ELDs.
- The ELD rule makes procedural and technical provisions to prevent harassment related to ELD data.
- The rule establishes technology specifications for manufacturers to create compliant devices and allows the use of certified smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs.
- Carriers that have already installed compliant automatic onboard recording devices are allowed to keep using them for two years after the compliance date.
- The FMCSA anticipates that the rule will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion (mostly in processing paperwork time and cost) and the prevention of 26 death and 1,844 crashes involving CMVs annually.¹
Responses to the ELD Rule
Most trucking organizations, lawmakers, and technology companies responded to the Final ELD Rule with praise and approval. Two family-owned trucking companies urge carriers to maximize the use of ELDs to minimize inefficiency and maximize profit.² On the other end of the spectrum, truck rental businesses expressed some concerns, while the OOIDA issued a full-on legal attack.³
- “A truly historic day for trucking.” The president of the American Trucking Association and the president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, which have supported ELDs since 2010 and 1999, respectively, agree that the mandate will change the industry for the better.
- “Clearly, the rule will relieve carriers and drivers” of burdens related to supporting documents and chances of harassment and coercion, stated the Truckload Carriers Association.
- “Paper logs have proven to be less accurate and easy to manipulate,” argued Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a long-time advocate of electronic driver logs.
- The new rule “removes any remaining argument for the Canadian governments not to move forward with a similar mandate,” stated the Canadian Trucking Alliance after the rule was revealed.
- “Recent improvements “have made ELDs less expensive, easier to install, and more intuitive to operate,” according to Ravi Kodavarti, director of product management for mobile communications at Rand McNally. Technology companies contend that ELD data can help any trucking operation save on costs and gain valuable business insights.
- “There are still “concerns given the unique nature of renting,” according to the Truck Renting and Leasing Association, which failed to convince the FMCSA to include a rental vehicle exception in the final rule.
- “Absolutely the most outrageous intrusion into the rights of professional truckers imaginable” is what Jim Johnston, OOIDA’s president and CEO, called the Final ELD Rule.⁴ OOIDA argued in 2011 that a proposed electronic logbook rule did not address the harassment of drivers, convincing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit to vacate the rule. The association issued litigation against the 2015 rule, but its “Petition for Review” did not include specific arguments, which OOIDA says it will present in court.
Moving Forward: Where to Get Training
Technology firm Omnitracs offers a webinar to help fleets understand ELDs. Zonar offers a path to ELD compliance, which includes knowledge and implementation strategies for your specific fleet. Two years is a generous amount of time to adopt ELD technology, but it’s never too early to understand and begin complying with the new final rule.
- Brian Straight, FleetOwner.com: “FMCSA Unveils Final ELD Rule”
- Aaron Marsh, FleetOwner.com: “Two fleets’ experience: ELDs and extras cut costs, boosted image”
- Matt Cole, CCJ: “Trucking groups weigh in on ELD mandate, major groups split on rule’s efficacy”
- FleetOwner.com: “OOIDA sues over ELD final rule”
“CTA: No Reason For Further Delay on Canadian ELD Rule.” Canadian Trucking Alliance, December 10, 2015. http://cantruck.ca/cta-no-reason-for-further-delay-on-canadian-eld-rule/
“Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents.” FMCSA. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-service-supporting-documents
“Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents.” Federal Register, March 28, 2014. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/03/28/2014-05827/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-of-service-supporting-documents
“OOIDA sues over ELD final rule.” FleetOwner.com, Dec 16, 2015. http://fleetowner.com/regulations/ooida-sues-over-eld-final-rule
Aaron Marsh, “Two fleets’ experience: ELDs and extras cut costs, boosted image.” FleetOwner.com, Oct 5, 2015. http://fleetowner.com/regulations/two-fleets-experience-elds-and-extras-cut-costs-boosted-image
Brian Straight, “FMCSA Unveils Final ELD Rule.” FleetOwner.com, Dec 10, 2015. http://fleetowner.com/regulations/fmcsa-unveils-final-eld-rule
Matt Cole, “Trucking groups weigh in on ELD mandate, major groups split on rule’s efficacy.” CCJ, Dec 14, 2015. http://www.ccjdigital.com/trucking-groups-weigh-in-on-eld-mandate-major-groups-split-on-efficacy/