Despite passage of a measure requiring additional study on the pending electronic logging device (ELD) mandate by a Congressional committee, chances of a major overhaul of that rule or even its stoppage is being characterized as a long shot at best – especially after the Supreme Court declined to hear a legal challenge to it last month.
Language inserted into a Department of Transportation fiscal 2018 funding bill passed July 17 by the House Appropriations Committee called for a look at “whether a full or targeted delay in ELD implementation and enforcement would be appropriate.”
The mandate requires nearly all interstate truck drivers to begin using ELDs starting on Dec. 18 to monitor hours of service.
The bill, which next moves to the full U.S. House, calls the ELD mandate “one of the most expensive of all transportation rulemakings,” and one that could harm smaller carriers. It requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to report back to the House and Senate within 60 days of the bill becoming law.
The House bill also calls for a review of ELD devices to confirm they meet standards and provide an easy-to-use interface.
The FMCSA declared in a written statement that Congress itself ordered the ELD mandate by Congress as part of the MAP-21 highway law and “requires only the most basic, lowest cost devices that still meet the statutory requirements.”
The agency did not address the details of House measure, but defended the years of work that went into developing the ELD mandate and said it will “work with Congress on the issues they identify to improve safety throughout the nation.”
Rob Moseley, a partner with Smith Moore Leatherwood, was asked this week about a possible delay or change to the mandate during a previously scheduled webinar on ELDs. Though he had not yet seen the exact language of the rider at the time the question was posed to him, Moseley said, “I can’t see a complete overhaul of what is already in place.”
“There is general acceptance for ELDs,” he explained. “You will see a very difficult fight for ELDs not to go into effect.”
Moseley noted the ELD mandate is not included in President Trump’s efforts to halt new regulations because it was already in process prior to his inauguration.
The ELD measure, however, did get the stamp of approval from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
“Clearly, members of Congress have heard concerns about the mandate from their constituents. The agency has failed to answer important questions from Congress and industry stakeholders about this mandate,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president.
Bill Sullivan, executive vice president of advocacy for American Trucking Associations (ATA), said the trade group was “disappointed” with this “misguided provision."
“This is a nakedly transparent effort by opponents of ELDs to chip away at a rule that will ensure compliance with hours-of-service and improve safety,” he stressed.
Similarly, the Trucking Alliance said in a statement ELDs will “save lives” and that "there's no valid reason to delay this much needed truck safety measure."
Excluding the ELD language, the bill passed by the full committee mirrored what a subcommittee passed one week earlier.
It includes a provision blocking states from implementing their own meal and rest breaks for truckers, grants a one year delay for livestock and insect haulers from the ELD mandate, and eliminates funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.