On what the ATA is calling “a historic day” for the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published their final rule mandating that truckers must switch from paper logs to Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).
Many in the industry are already using ELDs (also known as Electronic Onboard Recorders or EOBRs), but those who aren’t will have to make the switch by December 10th, 2017 – two years after the initial publishing date.
The extremely hot-button issue has been debated back and forth for years and this is not the first time the FMCSA has tried to force carriers and drivers to make the switch. In 2011 OOIDA was able to challenge a previous ELD mandate in court and managed to get it overturned. Then another ELD mandate was tossed out in 2012 because it failed to protect drivers against harassment.
Some opponents of ELDs claim that they invade drivers privacy, are an additional unnecessary cost, and make it too easy for drivers to be harassed or pressured into driving up until they have completely run out of hours despite feeling ill, tired, or otherwise unable to drive safely.
Furthermore, some groups claim that while ELDs have been implemented in the name of increased safety, there isn’t sufficient data that shows that they prevent crashes, and in some cases the data actually shows the opposite.
Other groups including the ATA have praised the FMCSA for publishing the mandate, saying that it “brings logging records into the modern age” and “allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”
The FMCSA claims that using ELDs could save an average of 26 lives and prevent over 1,800 crashes annually.
The new rule will apply to the vast majority of truckers, but will not apply to those who drive rigs built before the year 2000.
It also specifies that in order to qualify as an agency-approved ELD, the device must meet certain minimums including being able to automatically record date, time and location information, engine hours, vehicle miles, and driver ID information. Though many ELDs do track vehicles and drivers in real time, the FMCSA notes that that is not a required feature.