Indiana AG Curtis Hill writes letter to FMCSA asking for ELD delay
Thursday, November 30, 2017
by THE TRUCKER STAFF
INDIANAPOLIS — In a letter mailed this week to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Wednesday urged a delay in implementing new rules requiring use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) by commercial drivers. To immediately impose the new rules — set to take effect December 18 — would place undue burdens on drivers and operators, he wrote.
While other organizations and coalitions have asked for the rule to be delayed or even abolished, Hill appears to be the first elected official to appeal directly to the FMCSA.
Hill particularly took issue with the regulation’s reliance on manufacturers to “self-certify” devices as complying with government standards but with no effective procedures seemingly yet developed to provide oversight over the process.
Drivers and operators are left without any way of ascertaining which brands and models of devices ultimately will pass muster, Hill said, setting up the risk they could invest in purchasing devices later found to be inadequate.
Even while urging delay, the Office of Attorney General also is taking steps to ensure truckers and trucking companies are aware of the new regulations — collaborating with other state agencies to distribute information to relevant audiences.
In a letter to FMCSA Chief Counsel Randi Hutchinson, Hill noted that nearly 200,000 of the nation’s truck drivers are estimated to reside in Indiana.
“Approximately one in 14 jobs in our state is related t the trucking industry,” Hill said in the letter. “I urge you to take time to consider ways to improve he new policies before implementing them.”
Hill listed several issues that he said might result from the current proscribed manner of certification and registration, among them:
Certain steps outlined in the ELD Plan and Procedures Manual are “not required to be completed” because they cannot be completed. Hill said the actual data transfer has not and cannot be trialed with a safety official, and the Web services portal as of the writing of the letter is not fully operational. Manufacturers, he said, are left with a statement that data transfer via e-mail, USB and Bluetooth can still be tested in the manufacturers’ testing environments and if the required output file can be generated per the technical specification in that manner and environment that it “will work in FMCSA Web services.”
Furthermore, Hill said manufacturers are supposed to rely on the most recent version of the manual published on the website, yet the most recent version remains incomplete, including but not limited to, suggested testing schedules and quality assurance programs.
Additionally, Hill said while a driver will be permitted to use paper logs temporarily if a device is found to be noncompliant, it has been reported that the motor carrier will only have eight days from the notification to replace the noncompliant device with one that is compliant. If the problem is widespread throughout a large fleet, Hill said the FMCSA had suggested it would be “flexible,” but has provided no further guidance. Hill said this could have a detrimental effect on smaller carrier companies and in fact, the cost associated with such an occurrence has the potential to put some carriers out of business and negatively impact competition and interstate commerce.
Compliance, Hill said, will only be determined by individual enforcement personnel’s interpretation of the data after it has successfully transferred through FMCSA systems. “It remains unclear,” he said, “whether any guidelines or regulations have been developed and/or implemented for said interpretation and whether or not a particular device will even be able to transmit the data successfully.” Hill said this would lead to a great deal of ambiguity and different interpretations.
An FMCSA spokesman acknowledged the agency had received the letter and is reviewing its contents, but reiterated that FMCSA is operating under a statutorily designated deadline for ELD implementation.