Trucking industry prepares for ELD regulations
On Dec. 18, the electronic logging device mandate is set to go into effect. In response, the trucking industry is making preparations for compliance with the law, which was passed two years ago. Despite some objections to the ELD regulations, it’s likely that the mandate will go into effect, sparking a flurry of compliance measures at trucking companies across the United States.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a group that supports the ELD mandate and will be expected to enforce the new guidelines, has stated that the new rules are almost certain to go into effect as planned.
“It’s almost negligible at this point that it will be delayed,” executive director of CVSA Collin Mooney told Trucks.com.
And while compliance will be challenging and costly – estimates put costs at $2 billion – ultimately the mandate was created to increase driver safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates the ELDs will prevent 562 injuries, 1,844 crashes and will save 26 lives each year as fewer tired truckers are on the road. Current laws prevent truckers from driving more than 11 hours each day – ELDs are designed to track driver activity and prevent drivers from putting themselves at risk when tired.
Preparing for new rules
With nearly 3.5 million truckers working in the United States, adhering to compliance and safety accountability measures will become a top priority for fleet managers. While the rules go into effect on Dec. 18, the federal government has provided a grace period for compliance – truckers will be required to be fully compliant by April 1, 2018.
This grace period may prove necessary for those who have neglected to prepare for these changes. With just a few months left until the December start date, thousands of inspectors are preparing to be trained to oversee the implementation of ELDs across the country. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 13,000 new vehicle inspectors will undergo training starting in October or November. The FMCSA will lead these training events, and will also provide training materials and sessions for drivers to learn their way around driving with ELDs in place.
It’s crucial that drivers and fleet managers are prepared to deal with the new regulations, as the 13,000 newly trained inspectors will be poised to conduct roadside inspections at random. Non-compliant drivers will face penalties after the regulations go into effect, and the state-by-state penalties will include fines per violation. In Colorado, for example, non-compliant drivers will be fined $67, while in Missouri, drivers will be fined $172 per infraction. Companies should look into their state’s penalties, which will be scored using a point system, but more importantly, should focus on federal compliance.
“Our society rewards people who comply with the law,” said Chris Spear, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations. “Those who continue to believe they are above the law should face consequences if they continue to flout it.”
This leaves trucking companies just a few short months to sort out their ELD programs and to focus on CSA enforcement. It’s not too late for fleets that are currently unprepared, but managers should turn their eyes toward the calendar and create a compliance plan as soon as possible.
“Carriers who haven’t yet selected an ELD provider should start taking a hard look at their options ASAP,” Kerry Byrne, president of freight brokerage firm TQL, said. “From technology integration to new operational constraints, the ELD learning curve will certainly have a significant impact on all carriers.”
Although there is a congressional push led by U.S. Representative Brian Babin of Texas to overturn the ELD mandate, it is unlikely to work by Dec. 18, if at all. The Supreme Court chose not to hear the petition to overturn the regulations in June, leaving any objections to the rules unlikely to find footing in the court system.
Instead of hoping for an 11th-hour reversal, trucking companies should focus on educating drivers and integrating ELDs into their operational policies.