WASHINGTON — A diverse group of industries have formed a coalition that is “growing” in membership while making an appeal to delay a federal regulation requiring trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices.
The coalition presented its case during a news conference Wednesday at the National Press Club.
Industries represented include agriculture, pyrotechnics, utility contractors, livestock and several others that said they would be negatively impacted by the mandate.
“The electronic logging device mandate is written so broadly that it has far reaching implications well beyond the traditional trucking industry,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which is a member of the coalition.
The group supports a bill proposed by Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, that would delay the ELD mandate for two years.
Babin’s bill, HR 3282, also known as the ELD Extension Act of 2017, would extend the current implementation date from December 2017 to December 2019.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
The coalition says the mandate should be delayed until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration addresses numerous unresolved issues identified by impacted stakeholders.
“There are significant technological and real-world concerns that have not been addressed by FMCSA,” Spencer said. “These concerns include the certification of devices (or lack thereof), connectivity problems in remote areas of the country, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and the ability of law enforcement to access data. The FMCSA’s inability or refusal to resolve these issues makes the enactment of H.R. 3282 unquestionably necessary.”
Officials at three trucking organizations took exception to the effort to delay implementation.
“With ELD technology in place for years to comply with the Hours of Service regulations, Truckload Carriers Association members have taken a proactive approach to finding a compliance tool that worked well for their fleet operations,” said David Heller, vice president of government affairs at TCA. “Rather than delaying the inevitable, our members support an approach to ELDs that can and will positively address issues that have plagued this industry for decades. By adhering to the compliance date of December 18, our industry will begin to generate data that helps tackle such substantial problems like detention time, truck parking, and Hours of Service compliance. Insisting that this rule be delayed any longer only continues to accept these problems as status quo rather than truly taking a step forward in addressing them.”
“The trucking industry has had years to prepare for the transition from erroneous 19th Century paper logs to compliant modern-day technology,” said Sean McNally, vice president of communications and press secretary at the American Trucking Associations. “Congress has passed the ELD requirement three times over the last five years. This issue has been legislated, promulgated and litigated. It has been decided, and those still in denial would be best served complying with federal law rather than making excuses to exceed their hours of service limits and putting the motoring public at risk.
“As it stands today, no driver or carrier who has been honestly logging their time will need to change anything other than the manner which they record their hours of service – moving from inaccurate paper logs to more precise electronic ones. Complaints about the underlying Hours of Service rules may have merit, but that is a separate issue from complying with these the current rules.”
Lane Kidd, managing director the Trucking Alliance, a coalition of eight large motor carriers, echoed the sentiments of TCA and ATA.
“ELDs will reduce truck driver fatigue and lower the number of large truck accidents on our nation’s highways,” Kidd said. “The Congress has voted to require ELDs, the federal courts have upheld the congressional action, and yet OOIDA and other groups continue to do their members a great disservice by leading them perilously close to having their trucks taken out of service for not installing ELDs.”
OOIDA said the ELD mandate is estimated to cost impacted stakeholders more than $2 billion, making it one of the most expensive federal transportation rulemakings over the last decade. "This is a massive unfunded mandate that provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate,” Spencer said. “Notwithstanding the significant costs associated with the rule, it simply will not be ready for implementation on December 18, 2017.”
Babin’s bill would provide FMCSA and impacted stakeholders more time to work out fundamental problems associated with the rule, OOIDA said.
Commercial truck drivers are restricted to a limited number of working and driving hours under current regulations.
The FMCSA’s mandate requires that truck drivers use ELDs to track their driving and non-driving activities even though such devices can only track movement and location of a vehicle.
OOIDA contends that requiring electronic monitoring devices on commercial vehicles does not advance safety since they are no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording compliance with hours-of-service regulations.
Also at the news conference, an official of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) said his association was concerned that many agri businesses are not, and will not, be fully prepared to meet the compliance deadline.
"Moreover, ELD manufacturers may not be able to accommodate existing Hours of Service exemptions currently being utilized by agricultural retailers and distributors,” said Richard Gupton, senior vice president of public policy and counsel for ARA.
“Agricultural retailers play an important role in feeding the world. ARA members provide farmers with essential crop input materials such as seed, fertilizer, crop protection products and equipment,” Gupton said. “Our industry has a strong commitment to vehicle safety and supports FMCSA's mission to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks.
Gupton said the current process allows for self-certification by ELD manufacturers without a “robust” third-party screening process.
“Even though FMCSA is unwilling to certify ELD devices, there are manufacturers in the marketplace claiming their ELD product is ‘FMCSA Certified,’” he said. “To become a certified medical examiner, which performs driver medical exams, FMCSA requires medical examiners to enroll, complete necessary training, and pass a certification test. A medical examiner must receive notification of certification from FMCSA before authorized to perform driver exams. A similarly stringent process needs to be established by FMCSA for ELD manufacturers so the industry has full confidence that the systems they purchase will be compliant with new regulations.”
Gupton said ARA is also concerned with the unnecessary costs ELD systems impose on our industry without any proven safety benefits, which he said can cost from $200 to $1,000 each for the device, as well as the costs related to maintenance, service contracts with manufacturers or vendors, and driver training to use this new equipment.
Coalition members include Agricultural Retailers Association, American Pipeline Contractors Association, American Pyrotechnics Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, Distribution Contractors Association, Livestock Exporters Association of the USA, Lucas Oil Products, Mid-West Truckers Association, National Association of Chemical Distributors, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, National Aquaculture Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Electrical Contractors Association, National Federation of Independent Business and National Grain and Feed Association.
Also, National Ground Water Association, National Hay Association, National Motorists Association, National Precast Concrete Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, New England Fuel Institute, North American Wood Pole Council, OOIDA, Petroleum Marketers Association of America, Power & Communication Contractors Association, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, SikhsPAC, Southern Pressure Treaters’ Association and United States Cattlemen’s Association.