Graves urges LaHood to expedite MAP-21 ELD mandate
Mandating ELDs for motor carriers will produce benefits that outpace the cost of implementation in the form of increased Hours of Service compliance, reduced paperwork burdens, improved safety and greater operational efficiencies, ATA's Bill Graves said. (The Trucker file photo)
The Trucker News Services
WASHINGTON — Calling it “among the most important” aspects of MAP-21, the new two-year surface transportation bill, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves has asked Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to expedite the law’s requirement that the Department of Transportation conduct a rulemaking to mandate electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial drivers and motor carriers.
“In ATA’s view, ELDs are the best option to improve Hours of Service compliance, and if the underlying HOS rules are based on sound research, ELDs are a very good tool by which additional truck safety gains can be achieved,” Graves wrote in an August 8 letter to LaHood, a copy of which was sent to Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Graves told LaHood that in addition to the safety factors, ELD technologies can greatly increase fleet efficiency by speeding up the roadside inspection process and by reducing driver and carrier compliance burdens.
“In short, mandating ELDs for motor carriers will produce benefits that outpace the cost of implementation in the form of increased Hours of Service compliance, reduced paperwork burdens, improved safety and greater operational efficiencies,” Graves told LaHood.
Graves noted that some in the trucking industry would resist mandatory ELD use, a likely reference to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which has vigorously opposed ELDs, or in previous parlance electronic on-board recorders.
“They will point to erroneous data and make inaccurate claims about their limitations,” Graves wrote. “However, the vast majority of truck safety stakeholders support this requirement because of the potential compliance and safety benefits.”
OOIDA successfully challenged the FMCSA’s initial effort at an EOBR rulemaking, which would have required the limited, remedial use of EOBRs by any motor carrier found to have significant HOS violations. The final rule required EOBRs on all of those carriers' trucks for two years. The compliance date for the rule was to be June 4 of this year.
OOIDA raised several concerns relating to EOBRs and their potential use for driver harassment.
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The court held that, contrary to statutory requirements, FMCSA failed to address the issue of driver harassment, including how EOBRs could potentially be used to harass drivers and ways to ensure that EOBRs were not used to harass drivers.
The court also noted the agency had not estimated the safety benefits of EOBRs currently in use and how much EOBRs increased compliance.
Even as the rule was vacated, the FMCSA was in the process of writing a rulemaking that would have required EOBRs in all commercial vehicles.
When the remedial rule was vacated, the agency pulled back on those efforts to make sure it effectively covered the harassment issue and other issues involved in the vacating of the rule.
The proposed new rulemaking is scheduled to be in LaHood’s hands by the end of September, according to the DOT’s regulatory calendar.
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