ELD update: Will The Electronic Log Device Mandate Be Stopped?

ELD update

Image source: FMCSA

Laws requiring the use of Electronic Logging Devices by most commercial truckers are slated to take effect on December 18, 2017, but there are still many interest groups battling this controversial legislation. Since it was first introduced, the ELD mandate rules have been widely contested by many truckers, and the organizations that represent them, particularly the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association. Since the process of implementing the ELD mandate is still in its first phase of three, many have set their sights on either dismantling the rules, or keeping the first phase running for a longer period of time. You can use the following brief history of the battle between those who support the compulsory use of ELDs, and their opposition to help you determine your position of supporting or rejecting the ELD mandate.

ELDs first appeared in the 1980s, and since then there have been several efforts to lobby for the Department of Transportation to enact legislation that would require truckers to use them. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was first to push for this law, and in the year 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officially attempted to limit trucking hours of service using the ELDs. Though this attempt failed in court, the next major attempt, which occurred ten years later, managed to successfully compel the Department of Transportation to mandate that carriers who had a poor history of hours of service compliance would now be required to use ELDs. The trucking community, now facing the implementation of new, invasive technology, was split by this decision. Still, in 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act was passed, now mandating that the FMCSA work to draft an official rule for mandatory ELD implementation. This ultimate rule to require ELD use is now known as the ELD Mandate, and the OOIDA has championed the collective effort to limit the full-scale implementation of ELDs for commercial truck drivers.

The OOIDA has combatted the ELD mandate by highlighting many of the major considerations that seem to cause unease for truck drivers, like concern for the risk of privacy invasion, increased harassment between truckers and their employers, and the potential for this mandate to become incredibly expensive, without offering much benefit in return. These arguments withstood nearly a year of litigation, having defeated or successfully derailed the ELD rule in courts in 2004, 2007, and 2011. Though, by October 2016, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the final ELD mandate had been adequately corrected, and decided that the OOIDA could no longer contest it.  

ELD update

Yet, the OOIDA has not given up, even though the mandate is planned to go into effect in only a few more months. Many truckers still believe that the mandate provides little to no safety, economic, or productivity benefits, therefore the OOIDA and their supporters are waiting for any new opportunities to challenge the ELD mandate. In June, 2017, the Supreme Court again declined to allow the OOIDA any opportunity to dispute the mandate, but in September, once Congress has returned from recess, the House of Representatives and Senate will be voting on a bill that was announced on July 19th by Texas Senator Brian Babin. The bill aims to extend the ELD mandate deadline by 2 years allowing truckers more time to adapt, or fight the mandate. This bill is not very likely to succeed, due to the fact that the ELD mandate has already been widely legislated, debated, and litigated quite expensively, but many truckers are still holding out as long as possible before making the switch to ELDs, hoping that the devices won’t be necessary. Regardless of where you stand in this debate, to keep your business moving forward, it is important to always stay informed and ahead of the curve by preemptively adapting your logistical strategy to fit the current state of the trucking industry.

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