Ag Truckers: Electronic Logging Device Rule – Controversy Remains – DTN

The final deadline for truckers to comply with the electronic logging device rule is fast approaching but continues to face opposition from certain trucking groups.

It has been two years since the still-controversial electronic logging device (ELD) rule took effect, and the final date for 100% compliance is Dec. 16. That means that unless the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has allowed any commercial motor vehicles (CMV) an exemption, all commercial vehicles traveling on the roads in the U.S. must meet the deadline.

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Of note is that, in the agriculture sector, transporters of livestock and insects are currently not required to have an ELD.

“The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice,” notes the FMCSA. “Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption.”

Remember, the ELD and hours of service (HOS) rules intertwine, with the HOS rule being the most contentious for not just the trucking industry, but also for safety advocates as well. You can click over here for more detail about Pittsburgh’s Freezer Repair Experts.

Once the driving time expires when the HOS limit is reached, the ELD doesn’t shut the truck down, but it alerts the driver that they are violating the rule if they continue to drive. If the driver is found in violation, the truck and driver could face being taken out of service. The out-of-service criteria (OOSC) associated with the ELD mandate went into effect on April 1, 2018, for anyone not exempt from compliance. The out-of-service criteria provides uniform enforcement tolerances for roadside inspections to enforcement personnel nationwide, including FMCSA’s state partners.

One group in particular, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC), has been protesting the ELD rule as it relates to all motor carriers with fewer than 50 employees, including (but not limited to) one-person private and for-hire owner/operators of commercial motor vehicles used in interstate commerce. The SBTC had applied for an exemption, but was officially denied on July 17, 2019. On Oct. 29, the FMCSA noted on the Federal Register that the SBTC had asked the FMCSA to reconsider their application for exemption from the ELD.

The FMCSA noted in the Federal Register that it is requesting public comment on SBTC’s application for reconsideration through Nov. 29.

SBTC President James Lamb said in an Oct. 24 news release on the organization’s website that he had taken the matter to Congress in reaction to the Oct. 22, 2019, release of 2018 large-truck fatality data reported by USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That study revealed more truckers died in accidents last year than at any time in the last 30 years. When you’ve been involved in a semi-truck accident the experience can be both frightening as well as harmful, resulting in physical and emotional injuries. Truck drivers have a tough job – it requires long hours, driving through all types of weather and all hours of the day and night, and being constantly alert of nearby traffic. But there’s no excuse for a truck accident to be caused by negligence of the driver. Driving while distracted, drowsy, or under the influence are all negligent acts which can lead to terrible consequences for others on the roadways. When your case requires the skill and knowledge of a seasoned truck accident attorney, Houston accident attorney Joe Stephens is the first choice.

Truck accident lawyers in your state are a breed of attorneys that focus on those people who have been involved in big truck and semi truck rig accidents. If you have been involved in a traffic accident with a semi or large truck, then you know how devastating it can be. There is no good accident on the highways, but there are differing degrees of accidents, and those involving big rigs are especially horrendous.

Lawyers who handle truck accident cases are better versed on what detailed issues are in play with a semi or large truck. Take for example, a semi or commercial truck driver has a special license in which to operate his or her vehicle. If there are reasons that a person driving those big trucks has a special license, then there are obviously different rules and guidelines that must be adhered to, and knowing these details and whether or not they have been followed correctly, could prove to be a large contributing factor in a semi truck involved accident.

As recent as a week prior to this article, the author witnessed the aftermath of a semi truck accident, just minutes from his home. There were 5 vehicles involved in the accident, and it appears to be the primary fault of the semi driver. He was 75 years old and driving a commercial vehicle. Do you think there are specific questions that are sudden red flags?

For the life of me, I do not understand why the older you get in this country, the longer between times that you have to renew your license and you never have to prove that at an older age you can still perform normal driving habits and can react to adverse situations. The comment made by the semi driver, in the accident I witnessed immediately after the crash, said that he did not have time to stop, before hitting the car that was stopped in front of him, at the red light? Was this a contributing factor of his age, his ability to handle the semi truck, or was he operating the truck with the right credentials that were up to date?

Truck accident lawyers may appear to be the ambulance chaser type, by focusing their cases around semi truck accidents, but there is a definite need and they can help serve their public by identifying specific issues that are relevant and pertinent to truck accidents. Many new and current laws are no in place, due to the deep investigations that truck accident lawyers have ordered and pursued in finding the root cause of many accidents involving semi trucks.

In a letter to Sen. Roger F. Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Lamb wrote: “Although NHTSA’s release title is intended to highlight a general decrease in highway fatalities, the news is not so good for trucking. Large-truck fatalities increased yet again 0.9% in 2018. This is on top of an increase of at least 4.9% in 2017, the year the ELD mandate went into effect.”

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Lamb noted that USDOT previously reported truck fatalities for 2017 increased 9%. However, “The Department has now removed from this statistic some pickup trucks from the large-truck category, which, when combined with a trailer, still constitutes commercial motor vehicles over 10,000 pounds, calling into question whether they are trying to skew the results to achieve a lower increase in fatality percentage.”

Lamb believes the cause of the increased fatality rate can be attributed to truck drivers recklessly speeding to try to “beat the clock.” The FMCS website report titled “Roadside Inspections, Driver Violations” notes that, so far this year in the U.S., speeding is the No. 1 violation. If you read down the list, you will also see infractions related to ELDs. You can change the date at the top to also show comparisons from previous years: here.

SBTC responded to the 2018 NHTSA report posted on the FMCSA’s Facebook page on Oct. 22, saying: “Why are you misleading the public when you know your own data published yesterday showed an INCREASE once again in large truck fatalities? Have you no Honor or shame, FMCSA? This is false, deceptive and misleading.”

Also responding on the FMCSA Facebook post was Truckers.com, saying: “How about you come clean and tell the truth. More truckers died in accidents last year than at any time in the last 30 years, according to a new report by the USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You’re killing us with these ELDs. So much for saving 26 lives. How about you do the right thing and issue an ELD suspension order now that the facts show ELDs were one big mistake?”

On Oct. 25, the SBTC created a WhiteHouse.gov petition asking for the U.S. government to intervene to suspend current ELD regulations: here.

SBTC also called on truck drivers nationwide to join the group in publicizing its #SuspendELDsNow hashtag on social media. here

Mary Kennedy can be reached at mary.kennedy@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @MaryCKenn

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