FMCSA asks for responses to possible ELD rules changes

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Dive Brief:

  • The FMCSA is seeking public comment on potential changes to rules around electronic logging devices, which are required in commercial trucks to track drivers’ hours of service.
  • The agency said it is looking to “improve the clarity of current regulations” and address “concerns about the technical specifications raised by industry stakeholders,” according to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking posted Friday. The public comment period ends Nov. 15.
  • The FMCSA is asking for comments on five specific areas: applicability to pre-2000 engines, addressing ELD malfunctions, the process for removing ELD products from its list of certified devices, technical specifications, and ELD certification.

Dive Insight:

The FMCSA is considering updates to its ELD rules nearly five years after implementing the requirements.

More than 400 responses have been posted to the Federal Register since the notice was posted Friday. Many of the comments submitted by drivers and owner-operators as of this week balked at the notion of requiring the tech in older model trucks, in particular, after the agency initially exempted them. More than one driver suggested agency officials spend time behind the wheel of a truck for a better understanding of the challenges drivers face.

CM Jenkins, a self-identified owner-operator of a 1987 379 tractor, said pre-2000 exemptions should continue due to the excessive cost and unreliability of units available for manual engine trucks.

“This is an unreasonable [and] costly issue that will put many small companies [and] owner operators out of business this day [and] time that is one of the hardest times ever seen in the trucking industry,” Jenkins wrote in a comment.

The Small Business in Transportation Coalition wrote in a letter to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sept. 18 that ELDs “have not stopped the problem of falsification of logs as FMCSA and Congress [led] the public to believe” would happen.

The industry’s two main advocacy groups are split on the issue of ELDs in general. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which lobbied against the 2017 mandate, said that some of the proposed changes could bring benefits.

“The new notice opens the door to improving some aspects of the ELD mandate that have caused operational and compliance problems for thousands of drivers but we oppose any efforts to end the exemption on older trucks,” Jay Grimes, OOIDA director of federal affairs, said in an emailed statement. “This also is a chance for FMCSA to finally establish a legitimate ELD certification process so motor carriers do not have to invest extra capital constantly replacing faulty ELDs.”

The American Trucking Associations supports ELD mandates. HOS-tracking tech is more accurate, easier to access and more difficult to falsify than paper logs, Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president of advocacy, wrote in a July letter to the FMCSA.

“Arguments against the ELD mandate are arguments in favor of violating the hours-of-service rules,” Sullivan wrote.

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