Semi-truck drivers have faced a barrage of recent changes as the industry has been under scrutiny. A once traditional, all-American job appears to be in the process of an image change with an upgrade to 21st century technology. Until recently, truck drivers were expected to start tracking their working hours electronically instead of keeping paper logs. However, a bill introduced just a few months ago has delayed the mandate of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for use by truckers.
Delaying MAP-21, Offering an ELD Extension
U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, introduced the ELD Extension Act of 2017 on July 19th. The act would create an additional two-year delay before implementation of the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) mandate on all American freight trucks. This mandate is currently scheduled to go into effect on December 18th.
News of the ELD mandate is not new to the trucking industry. In 2012, President Obama signed the MAP-21 highway bill into law mandating all trucks to install and use Electronic Logging Devices no later than two years after the ruling was issued. However, the mandate was meant to modernize the trucking industry and help employers comply with Hours of Service regulations, though it negatively impacted both smaller trucking companies and independent drivers. This is what prompted the delay.
Easing The Burden On Small Businesses
Rep. Babin stood firmly upon his decision to delay the mandate, explaining, “While technology like ELDs have great promise, I didn’t come to Washington to force those ideas on small business – and neither did President Trump. If trucking companies want to continue implementing and using ELDs, they should go right ahead. But for those who don’t want the burden, expense and uncertainty of putting one of these devices into every truck they own by the end of the year, we can and should offer relief.”
Many like Babin support the delay. Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, agreed:
“While we still believe ELD mandate should be outright repealed, FMCSA simply isn’t ready to implement this rule.”
An Ongoing Debate
Others strongly disagree with the mandate extension and readily voiced their opinions. Both the President and Vice President of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, Steve Williams and Kevin Knight, stated, “There’s no valid reason to delay this much-needed truck safety measure. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is doing an admirable job to meet the timeline by December 17, 2017, the date which requires that all commercial interstate trucks install these electronic devices.” Williams and Knight believe that “ELDs will save lives, improve a truck driver’s quality of life and improve highway safety by lowering the number of large truck accidents.”
The FMCSA reasons that safety can be greatly improved with the addition of mandated ELDs. The FMCA estimates that 1,844 large truck crashes per year can be avoided if ELDs are installed in all interstate commercial trucks. While trucker and lobbyist may not see eye-to-eye, key players on each side continue to work toward a steady transition that supports both safety measurements and the trucking lifestyle.