Pending December 2017 ELD implementation remains on track, says ex-FMCSA head Sandberg

With the calendar getting closer to Monday, December 18, also known in trucking circles as the day that electronic logging devices (ELD) go live, it looks like things are all system go for the mandate, which has received a fair amount of attention in recent months.

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With the calendar getting closer to Monday, December 18, also known in trucking circles as the day that electronic logging devices (ELD) go live, it looks like things are all system go for the mandate, which has received a fair amount of attention in recent months.

The FMCSA formally announced in late 2016 that the federal mandate for electronic logging devices (ELD) for commercial motor carriers was official and would take effect in December 2017, basically confirming the inevitable in some ways within the freight transportation and logistics sectors. The objective of the rule, according to FMCSA, is to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) regulations that combat fatigue. The rule will take full effect on December 10, 2017, two years after the date of the final rule being issued. ELDs automatically record driving time and monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information.

Many trucking observers maintain that the need for ELDs is obvious, with most explaining that the industry has been reliant on paper logs for far too long. And there could likely be economic benefits through ELD usage, as observers say it could likely reduce the effective number of miles a driver could log, further tightening trucking capacity at a time of ongoing limited truck driver supply, rising pay, and higher overall fleet costs.

At last week’s 2017 FTR Transportation Conference in Indianapolis, Annette Sandberg, CEO of TranSafe Consultation and former Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, told attendees that despite many attempts by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) to squelch the pending ELD mandate, as well as a recent failed effort by the House to delay ELD enforcement, that there is no activity that will hinder ELD implementation from taking effect.

“The industry has made it very clear that they want this regulation and see it go live this year,” she said. “Stakeholders think this will help in leveling the playing field.”

Interestingly enough, despite the lengthy duration in which time FMCSA initially announced the ELD mandate was official, and the coming December implementation, Sandberg noted that there are still a fair amount of carriers that have yet to implement ELD, some of whom are owner-operators.

“We have received a good amount of queries from carriers about things like how to do this implementation quickly and what carriers to pick,” she said. “As a former regulator, the biggest concern I have is the number of ELD vendor that are currently on the FMCSA [approved vendor] list that probably should not be. Vendors on this list are supposed to have ELD systems that can be self-certified, which means it meets the criteria and can be added to the approved list.”

Using a real-life example of where things can go wrong with this process, Sandberg explained how she spoke with a carrier with around 3,000 trucks that had selected an ELD vendor on the list that was concerned “something was not right” with the ELD vendor.

After vetting the vendor’s product, Sandberg said it was evident that the ELD carrier should not have been self-certified, as it was not even minimally compliant with the existing electronic on-board recording device regulations that have been in effect for nearly 30 years.

“That represents a concern I have been having, with carriers out there buying devices and hoping they will be fine but later find out there are problems,” she said.

What’s more, there is also the announcement from Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance last month in which it stated that effective December 18, inspectors and roadside personnel will start to document violations on roadside inspection reports and, based on the jurisdiction’s discretion, issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating without a compliant ELD. And effective April 1, 2018, it said inspectors will begin placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service based on its out of service criteria (OOSC) if their vehicles are not equipped with an ELD, but motor carriers will be permitted to use a grandfathered automatic onboard recording device until December 16, 2019.

The April 1, 2018 date for the ELD OOSC, said CVSA, provides carriers, shippers, and roadside enforcement with needed time to adjust prior to vehicles being placed out of service for ELD violations.

Sandberg said that even if a truck does not have an ELD, it will take FMCSA a while to go in and take some type of enforcement action to take downgrade that carrier for not being ELD-compliant.

“It will take at least a year before we start seeing some carriers fully complying,” she said.

Carriers not likely to see any impact from ELD are those trucks used for intermodal haulage, most of which are pre-2000 model years and not required to use ELD.  Sandberg said that owners of these trucks are likely to use them for as long as possible before they age out, adding that it will be a while before the impact of ELD on intermodal is determined.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Article Topics

ELD · EOBR · Regulations · trucking · All Topics
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