It took some time to get here, and the new rule mandating electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial motor vehicles did make an entrance — the first email announcements arrived Thursday in inboxes around 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Reactions to the final rule, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register Dec. 16, have been rolling in since as the trucking industry digests it.
For its part, the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) is all smiles. Calling the rule's initial release Thursday "a historic day," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves unhesitatingly stated a prediction that the ELD rule "will change the trucking industry for the better — forever."
"An already safe and efficient industry will get even more so with the help of this proven technology," Graves added. And Dave Osiecki, the group's executive vice president and chief of national advocacy, thanked Congress and congratulated FMCSA for pushing forward on an ELD mandate.
Members of Congress themselves praised the ELD rule. One, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), said she's long been an advocate of electronic driver logs, in part because "paper logs have been proven to be less accurate and easy to manipulate, allowing some drivers to evade safety restrictions on driving hours."
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) expressed support for the new rule in hopes it will make regulatory compliance easier and protect drivers. "TCA applauds the efforts of the 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," David Heller, the group's director of safety and policy, told Fleet Owner.
Meanwhile, about 750 clicks north of the Beltway in Toronto, the Canada Trucking Alliance used the rule's release to argue that it's high time Canada issued its own: the new ELD rule "puts Canada 'under the gun' and removes any remaining argument for the Canadian governments not to move forward with a similar mandate in Canada," CTA stated yesterday.
"This is a matter of principle for us," CTA CEO David Bradley said in that statement.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) successfully blocked the previous rule in a court challenge based on the lack of any driver harassment protections—and the association is no fan of the likely current rule, either.
OOIDA argues electronic logs should not be mandated.
“It’s simply a compliance tool, it’s not an actual safety tool,” Scott Grenerth, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs, said. “If fleets or drivers want to use them, that’s totally fine.”
The Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) is also less enthusiastic. The Washington, DC-area group, whose members include U-Haul, Enterprise, Ryder and Penske and other truck rental/lease companies, said it is disappointed FMCSA rejected its call for an exemption from the rule for rented trucks.
TRALA noted in a release that it had "expressed concern that different technology platforms used by so many different drivers and companies could be difficult to reconcile, with no clear indication by FMCSA as to whether the owner of the vehicle or the operator would be required to maintain that data."
While most of its members are exempt from the ELD mandate because rental trucks operate within a limited radius — and there are exemptions in that case — the rule could require rental fleets to have ELDs, "whether or not the rental company needs to utilize the technology," TRALA warns.
"There are still questions that remain regarding the technology needed and the availability of that technology to satisfy our concerns given the unique nature of renting," TRALA President and CEO Jake Jacoby said in a statement.
Companies that make ELD products — of which there are many — have been issuing releases noting things such as their ELDs will soon or possibly already meet the new rule's requirements. Tire maker Continental Corp. says it "has confirmed" its VDO Roadlog product will be compliant for smaller trucking operations out there: "operators with one truck to fleets of 100 trucks."
"We're pleased to know that VDO Roadlog will be compliant with the FMCSA ELD rule," stated Alexis Capelle, manager of Continental's ELD program. A benefit the VDO Roadlog product claims is that it doesn't come with a monthly subscription fee attached.
Technology firm Omnitracs is calling the new rule "the most impactful change in the transportation industry in many years" and is offering a webinar to help fleets get up to speed. Others including Rand McNally, Telogis, PeopleNet and indeed, sister publication Fleet Owner have ELD timeline/explanation and special news splash pages online now.