WASHINGTON — James Lamb is taking his fight against electronic logging devices right back to where the current mandate for ELDs was birthed.
The head of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) said Wednesday he plans to have introduced in the House the “Suspension of Electronic Logging Device Mandate to Protect Americans Working in Interstate Commerce Act” which would suspend the current ELD mandate.
The electronic devices were mandated by Congress as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century transportation bill passed in 2012.
Lamb said he would name sponsors of the bill when it is formally introduced.
He said he hopes to have an identical version of the bill introduced in the Senate.
The bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to:
- Immediately cease enforcement of the ELD rule promulgated at 49 CFR 395.8 (a)
- Require carriers to revert back to paper record of duty status logs
- Study the unintended consequences and effects of ELDs on operators of commercial motor vehicles
- Determine whether commercial motor vehicle operators have experienced adverse psychological effects that have induced reckless speeding and have caused an increase in large-truck occupant fatalities since implementation of the ELD rule in December 2017.
Meanwhile, the SBTC has asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to delay the December 16 deadline for carriers using Automatic On Board Recording Devices to switch to ELDs.
In addition, Lamb and his organization, which reportedly has 15,000 members, are currently circulating an online petition to get the federal government to immediately suspend the ELD rule.
As of Wednesday, some 32,000 trucking stakeholders had signed the petition, which Lamb plans to present to the White House. He hopes to get 100,000 signatures by November 29.
The bill and the petition are only the latest efforts in Lamb’s fight against ELDs.
The first effort came when in February 2018 Lamb and the SBTC filed an application for an exemption from the ELD rule for carriers with fewer than 50 employees.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denied the petition in July of this year and in late October, the SBTC filed an application for reconsideration of the denial.
The FMCSA immediately published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on the reconsideration application.
When Lamb filed the original exemption application, the FMCSA said it received over 1,900 comment, most in favor of the exemption.
Among other things, in the proposed legislation, Lamb says:
- The ELD mandate must “must “ensure that… the responsibilities imposed on operators of commercial motor vehicles do not impair their ability to operate the vehicles safely…”
- In 2018, the first full year the new ELD rule was in effect for the trucking industry to enforce commercial motor vehicle operators’ compliance with hours of service regulations, a total of 885 large truck occupants perished in crashes last year. That number marks the most since 1988. (The fatality total included all large trucks, which the federal government defines as trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more; most Class 8 trucks such as tractor-trailers carry a GVWR of 33,001 pounds or more).
- The number of speeding violations issued to U.S. truck drivers increased 7.8 percent in 2018, climbing to 146,945 violations, according to FMCSA data. The number of violations issued to truckers for driving 15 mph or more above limits rose 10.3 percent last year.
The bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to do a study to determine if a correlation exists between the implementation of the ELD rule in December 2017 and the rise in truck speeding incidents and large truck occupant fatalities in 2018.
Talk about electronic logging devices goes back to at least 2000 when the newly-created FMCSA first attempted to reform Hours of Service regulations to mandate the use of electronic tracking devices. This attempt to mandate HOS tracking with an ELD device was shot down by a 2004 court order.
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.