ATA letter to FMCSA refutes claims of opponents of ELDs
Monday, July 24, 2017
by LYNDON FINNEY/The Trucker Staff
ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations late Friday sent a strongly-worded letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expressing ATA’s staunch opposition to any effort that would delay the December 18 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.”
The December deadline was established by the FMCSA in 2015 following a decade of regulatory inquiry, study, litigation and ultimately a Congressional mandate in 2012 as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, also known as MAP-21.
“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 said.
In the letter, Sullivan refuted what he called “arguments” put forth by opponents of ELDs, among them:
ELDs infringe on drivers’ right to privacy: The ELD regulation simply requires drivers to record their Hours of Service by a different means, electronic vs. 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, Sullivan said, adding that the 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, Sullivan said. 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, the letter said. “These drivers make sure our store shelves are stocked and our factories are supplied, Sullivan said. “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.”
“Using an electronic logging device to record Hours of Service is the right thing to do,” Sullivan said. “It is using 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.”
“ATA strongly supports FMCSA’s electronic logging device mandate, and urges Congress to not interfere in the FMCSA’s efforts to improve safety by meeting this important regulatory deadline,” Sullivan said.