An open letter details the ATA’s opposition to ELD setbacks.
By Domenic Olmeda
The trucking industry isn’t shy about adopting new technology, but the arrival of an electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has the sector split in two. ELDs are designed to synchronize with a truck’s engine and automatically track an operator’s hours of service, which is why the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has come out in support of their compulsory usage.
In an open letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) this month, the trucking industry’s largest national trade association made a case for these devices in the face of H.R. 3282. The ELD Extension Act of 2017, as it is known, provides an additional two-year delay before mandatory use is instated. “As our letter explains, it’s incumbent on regulators and Congress to dismiss this last ditch try by some to evade critically important safety laws,” says Bill Sullivan, ATA executive vice president of advocacy and author of the document.
Established by the FMCSA in 2015, the regulation calls for the implementation of ELDs on all U.S. freight-hauling trucks by December 18, 2017. Sullivan cites the benefits these tools provide over traditional pen and paper logging. They include an 11.7 percent reduction in crash rate and a 50 percent drop in hours-of-service violations—prime contributors to driver fatigue and, consequently, collisions on the road.
Sullivan goes on to address three major arguments against the mandate. He contends that the standardization of these devices in December does not compromise trucker privacy, shipping during the holidays or operator satisfaction any more than the traditional pen and paper method does currently. “At the end of the day, I believe the reason naysayers of electronic logging oppose this regulation is because they intend to cheat on their hours of service,” Sullivan says. “It’s the same reason an individual with an exotic sports car buys a radar detector: It’s an implicit admission that they intend to break the speed limit.”
He concludes the letter by stating the association’s support for the FMCSA’s legislation and urges the agency to clear up any questions about the regulation. They include: “Is the technology necessary for the ELD mandate ready for implementation?” and “Will the enforcement community be prepared to carry out the requirement?” to better inform legislators and other concerned parties.
The complete open letter can be found on the ATA’s website.