With the clock winding down towards the imposition of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate on December 18, differences of opinions over the impact of those devices on trucking remain heatedly split.
Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36), who authored legislation to try and delay the imposition of the ELD mandate for two years – dubbed H.R. 3282, the ELD Extension Act of 2017 – took to the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday to implore President Trump to ask for a 90-day waiver from the regulation for the entire industry.
“President Obama left office back in January, but a $2 billion dollar regulation he wrote in 2015 to require an electronic tracking device in every truck in America is still scheduled to go into effect this Monday,” Babin said in his speech.
“The DOT [U.S. Department of Transportation] can give a 90-day waiver for all truckers from this mandate, and proved it by issuing several waivers for specific industries, including one just this week,” he stressed. “Instead of offering fairness and relief, they are picking winners and losers.”
Babin added that “millions of American truckers” asked for relief from the ELD mandate through the nationwide “ELD or Me” campaign for months – “but it has fallen on deaf ears” at DOT, he emphasized.
“Mr. President, you call the shots in your administration. Please issue an executive order today and instruct DOT to give all truckers relief from this mandate for three months,” Babin said. “Don’t implement this colossal, Obama-era mandate just a week before Christmas."
By contrast, others within the industry believe the ELD mandate will actually make the business of hauling freight “fairer” for all truckers.
“I think the ELD mandate [creates] a level playing field – that [motor] carriers will now compete in a fair and compliant world of management practices and service, as opposed to finagling the regulations, is how one succeeds,” noted Stephen Laskowski, incoming president of the Ontario Trucking Association, in a recent conference call.
“The ELD mandate will bring a lot of great things for drivers, for public safety, but if one looks just at the industry, it's a wonderful opportunity for the carriers that do it the right way to thrive,” he added. “And for those who have not been doing it the right way, it’s an opportunity to change or to exit the industry.”
Yet such sentiments don’t sit well with many drivers and independent operators.
“I’ve used my voice; I’ve written, I’ve texted,” noted Charles Claburn, a longtime driver and trucking activist based in Diberville, MS, who works with the 19,000-member anti-ELD group “ELD or Me.”
“Nothing is going to change; we are not being paid attention to. It is as if we are invisible even to the American public,” he said in a Facebook Live post. “Nobody is looking out for the working man.”
But he warned truckers that just because the ELD mandate may not impact them now, it doesn’t mean it won’t affect them later.
“The madness has to end,” Claburn said. “I can promise you, by January 1, if this mandate does not get a reprieve and we don’t get a chance to regroup as an industry, very shortly after that, drastic measures will be taken.”