Thursday, October 01, 2015

FMCSA Target Date for ELDs Rule Now October 30, 2015
 On March 12, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) announced a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“SNPRM”) to mandate electronic logging devices. The development of the Electronic Logging Device mandate is part of the transportation reauthorization bill MAP-21 ("Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century") that was signed into law in 2012.
In its simplest form, an electronic logging device — or ELD — is used to electronically record a driver’s Record of Duty Status (“RODS”), which replaces the paper logbook some drivers currently use to record their compliance with Hours of Service (“HOS”) requirements.
“Electronic Logging Devices” sync with a truck’s engine to capture power status, motion status, miles driven and engine hours. Additionally, the FMCSA uses the term “ELD data” to mean each data element captured by an ELD that is compliant with the specified requirements and that would be available to authorized safety officials during roadside inspections and as part of on-site or other reviews. The following data elements are the specific items that makeup the ELD dataset:

CMV location
Engine hours
Vehicle miles
Driver or authenticated user identification data
Vehicle identification data
Motor carrier identification data

The mandate will apply to all drivers who are currently required to keep paper RODS. Drivers who are required to keep RODS for eight or more days out of every 30 days must use an ELD. While drivers that fall under the HOS exemption (i.e. short haul drivers operating within a 100- mile radius or non-CDL drivers operating within a 150-mile radius) are not required to have an ELD, the mandate is estimated to affect approximately 3.1M trucks and 3.4M drivers according to the FMCSA.
The rule will take effect two years following its publication, the date by which fleets, owner-operators and drivers must be using electronic logging devices that satisfy the rule’s requirements.
The FMCSA had targeted Sept. 30 as the publication date. However, The rule was sent from the FMCSA to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) on July 28 for its required approval. In its report issued this week, the DOT says it now expects the OMB to clear the rule Oct. 26, paving the way for the agency to publish the rule Oct. 30.
Certification of compliance with the new rules will be self-administered by ELD providers. Essentially, the FMCSA will be offering various test parameters for use to determine compliance and will facilitate a registry for companies to sign up with.
In writing the ELD rule, the FMCSA is aware of the possible cost burden on fleets. While it recognizes that there is a net-benefit from the paperwork savings alone, it doesn’t want to saddle drivers and fleets with trucking technology that is not affordable. To address those ELD cost concerns, the FMCSA has provided that smartphones, tablets, and rugged handhelds can be used so long as the system as a whole meets ELD requirements, including a hardwired connection to the truck’s engine.

The ELD regulation, along with a related rule penalizing carriers, shippers and third parties for coercing drivers to violate federal truck safety laws, has the potential to reshape the trucking and shipping business in a big way. In the short-term, the number of available trucks and drivers could drop as the rule is implemented over the next two years and beyond.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long been opposed to the mandated use of electronic logging devices. It argues that research fails to prove that the electronic devices improve highway safety or hours-of-service compliance over the use of paper logs. The devices cannot distinguish off-duty not-driving and on-duty not-driving activities, thereby rendering the devices useless in determining actual compliance with the regulations.
Some drivers applaud the rule and think ELDs should be required on every truck. They compare it to a rule requiring employers to use electronic time clocks rather than handwritten time cards to prevent payroll fraud. They argue that electronic logbooks provide accountability and compliance to the trucking industry. Many interest groups also support the initiative. The American Trucking Association supports the use of ELDs as does the Trucking Alliance, a group representing a number of carriers.
No official cost-benefit analysis for ELDs has been conducted in Canada. In the U.S. the FMCSA expects a net benefit of $800 million. According to the American Transportation Research Institute truck drivers in serious violation of hours of service regulations are 45% more likely to be involved in an accident than those who are in compliance. There was also a 90% greater risk of collision for drivers with patterns of non-compliance. It has been estimated that truck drivers will benefit by realizing a net gain in available driving/on duty time of 30 to 120 minutes per seven day cycle, translating into $2000 in annual earning potential. It is estimated that, for small trucking companies of fifty trucks or less, the staff costs savings will be over $3000 per month. The benefit to the government is reduced healthcare, infrastructure and other costs associated with the safer highways, as well as reduced costs of inspections. (*1)
(*1) Canadian Trucking Alliance, Briefing Note “Benefits-Costs of Electronic Logging Devices for Driver Hours of Service,” January 2014.


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