OOIDA: States Should Review Pitfalls of ELD Rule

December 07, 2017

By David Cullen

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Photo: JJ Keller

Photo: JJ Keller

Inspired perhaps by a recent action taken by the Attorney General of Indiana, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has requested that “top officials from each state seriously review potential problems anticipated with enforcement” of the electronic logging device mandate, which takes effect in less than two weeks on Dec. 18.

To get its message out, OOIDA has sent a letter laying out its concerns about the ELD rule to all state attorneys general and copied it to representatives in each state for the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, a federal grant program that provides financial assistance to states.

OOIDA’s effort follows the recent request of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. (R) that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration delay implementation of the ELD rule. Hill stated in a Nov. 29 letter to FMCSA Chief Counsel Randi Hutchison that a delay was needed because to “immediately begin requiring drivers to use ELDs exclusively (except, as the new rule allows, for those with on-board recording devices installed before Dec. 18, 2017) would place undue burdens on drivers and operators.” 

Hill told FMCSA that his chief concern is that there is no government or third-party verification in place for the ELD device self-certification process that FMCSA has suppliers using in order to be registered with the agency.  

In its letter to the states, OOIDA contends that “public statements made by FMCSA, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, various state enforcement agencies, and others demonstrate that there is a widespread misunderstanding of the legal obligations imposed upon motor carriers and drivers under the ELD regulations.”

The truckers’ lobby said that, in particular, it is concerned about potential misinterpretations of the mandate’s exemptions for older model trucks.  

“The FMCSA website offers confusing and contradictory information on what models of trucks are obligated to employ ELDs under the rule,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.  

The letter describes how OOIDA contacted more than 15 states’ commercial motor vehicle enforcement agencies to ask whether there was consensus on how to enforce this ELD exemption and reports that there was no consensus. “The states have taken positions that range from following the plain language of the rule, to following FMCSA’s guidance, to an approach similar to CVSA’s and, in some cases, to taking no position yet.” 

OOIDA added that its letter and an accompanying document “goes on to point out that the mandate increases the amount of data available to law enforcement, suggesting that states should adopt new statutes to protect privacy of drivers and limit the use of data to hours of service compliance determinations only.”   

“The mandate provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate,” said Spencer. “With so many unanswered questions with exemptions and use of electronic data, an immediate delay is highly warranted to avoid wasted resources and costly disputes within the enforcement and carrier community.”

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