Photo: Omnitracs

Photo: Omnitracs

UPDATED: Given how much industry feedback — dating back five years — informed the writing of the electronic logging device mandate announced Thursday, it’s not surprising that stakeholder reaction right out of the gate is mostly positive, with owner-operators marking the exception.

The final rule, which published reports indicate is scheduled to be officially published Dec. 16, requires truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to adopt ELDs within two years. Carriers currently using electronic logs will get an extra two years to switch to compliant technology.

The American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association expressed positive reactions Thursday, while comments from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association seem to indicate a potential legal challenge.

The American Trucking Associations said that it was “pleased” the rule is now out, stating that the mandate will help improve both safety and efficiency for the industry. ATA noted that securing a regulation requiring ELDs to monitor driver hours-of-service had been a “top priority” since 2010.

“Today is truly a historic day for trucking,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “This regulation will change the trucking industry – for the better – forever. An already safe and efficient industry will get more so with the aid of this proven technology.”

Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and chief of national advocacy, said the lobbylooks forward to working closely with FMCSA, state law enforcement agencies, as well as our members and industry partners during the two-year transition to full implementation of this safety technology.”  

David Heller, director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Association, told HDT that there’s nothing unexpected in the rule.

“TCA applauds the efforts of FMCSA in promulgating an Electronic Logging Device regulation that aids in alleviating some of the burdens regarding supporting documents, eases compliance with the Hours-of-Service Regulations and furthers the efforts of the agency in the fight against driver coercion and harassment.”

Heller also said the rule “clearly relieves carriers and drivers of furnishing supporting documents pertaining to on-duty/driving time. It also outlines the performance specs for ‘FMCSA Compliant'" ELDs, which will aid carriers when finding a device that is practical for their fleets. 

And he noted that the mandate also appears to exempt drivers of trucks built before model year 2000, as they “lack the electronic feasibility to incorporate ELDs with those engines.”

Not everyone's happy

However, in remarks to its own Land Line magazine and on the Road Dog Radio trucking channel on Sirius XM, OOIDA Vice President Todd Spencer indicated the association might challenge the rule. Again.

The Journal of Commerce reported that Spencer told Sirius XM radio host Mark Willis, “We’re not going to lay down for regulatory overreach."

“Do electronic logging devices truly improve highway safety? Nothing has been presented to indicate that, in fact, that is true. In fact, we see the opposite," he said in a Land Line magazine article online. “Onboard recorders are all about productivity and enhancing productivity, which basically puts those in constant conflict with the legitimate safety needs of drivers,” Spencer said. The article reported the association is reviewing the regulation and that it will "make FMCSA fully justify the mandate."

Spencer said the association challenged the Department of Transportation’s 2010 final rule mandating electronic onboard recorders in a federal appeals court and won in 2011, forcing FMCSA to rewrite the rule. “Our strategy will simply be the same this time," he said, according to the JOC article.

Working on compliant products

Suppliers of electronic logs have already begun pointing out that they will have product in place to ensure truck operators can meet the mandate once it kicks in two years from now.

For example, Continental Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket announced on Dec. 10 that its VDO RoadLog ELDs and software will meet the rule’s standards for hardware, software, connectivity methods and integration with the vehicle’s engine as well as be tamper-resistance.

“We’re pleased to know that VDO RoadLog will be compliant with the FMCSA ELD rule, even though the devices required by the new rule are more technologically advanced than those required by the previous EOBR rule from 2010,” said Continental ELD Program Manager Alexis Capelle.

ELD provider Zonar announced as well on Dec. 10 that it is “primed to help fleet managers work towards compliance by the time the rules go into effect in two years.”

“When the ELD mandate was first proposed, we didn’t want to be a ‘me too’ solution provider,” said Fred Fakkema, vice president of compliance at Zonar Systems. “We wanted to leverage our experience and existing solutions to be at the forefront of a mandate that will help save lives and boost efficiency for both motor carriers and enforcement.”

Fakkema advised that “fleets without an existing ELD designed to adapt to the mandate will need to take a strategic approach and work back from when its fleet needs to be compliant to where its fleet is now, including all the steps in between.

“Getting a fleet and its drivers to switch from paper logs to a technology they may not be familiar with has an inherent learning curve,” he added. “Our objective is to help fleets make this as a seamless process as much as possible.”

Another announcemen came from Rand McNally, which said it has launched a new "ELD Road Map" site to provide "all the information about the new mandate in one place."

Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory affairs for Omnitracs, suggested that fleets look beyond the letter of the new regulatiory law. “As fleets look to incorporate an ELD, I advise them to look at what other functionality and benefits they offer to help manage vehicles beyond tracking Hours of Service,” he  told HDT.

Cuthbertson said fleets should be aware of “the benefits of ELDs that go far beyond compliance, as it relates to efficiency and productivity. ELD systems give vehicle cost avoidances on maintenance, breakdowns and fuel management that provide a sufficient ROI to any size fleet.”

He explained that the FMCSA mandate’s requirement that the ELD be connected to the vehicle ECM “provides all this additional opportunity to control costs.”

And on Dec. 11, Telogis announced it was rolling out its “Electronic Logging Devices Made Simple” initiative, which it called a convenient way for fleets to more easily meet the requirements for new mandatory EDLs.

“The new ELD mandate is being met with a lot of uncertainty and confusion, which is why we launched ‘ELD Made Simple,’” said Kelly Frey, vice president of product marketing at Telogis. “We are delivering on a promise to enable a better experience for drivers and the businesses they work for. With ELD Made Simple, we are anticipating and solving the pain points of ELDs and hours of service adoption through the Telogis Compliance and Telogis Navigation apps, leading the way for every truck fleet.”

Frey said Telogis is “making the adoption of the ELD mandate and compliance simple with connectivity, applications and consulting aimed at improving safety, efficiency and productivity. Telogis-connected vehicle apps represent a mobile extension of its cloud-based software platform, which includes a suite of applications that enable companies with fleet vehicles, equipment and people who work outside the four walls, to stay connected to the company while identifying areas where gains in efficiency and cost-savings can be made.” 

Editor in Chief Deborah Lockridge contributed to this article.

Updated 7:30 p.m. EDT 12/10/2015 to add OOIDA information.

Updated 10:07 p.m. EDT 12/10/2015 to add additional information from ELD suppliers.

Corrected 11 a.m. EST 12/11/2015: Final rule is not published on Dec. 11 as initially reported. Published reports indicate it is scheduled to be published Dec. 16.

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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