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ATA calls for continued ELD push

Posted: July 24, 2017

ARLINGTON, VA – The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is calling on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to continue in the push toward a December rollout of mandated Electronic Logging Devices.

“Supporters of a delay are attempting to accomplish, almost at the 11th hour, what they’ve been unable to do in the courts, Congress or with the agency: roll back this common sense, data-supported regulation based on at best specious and at worst outright dishonest arguments,” says Bill Sullivan, executive vice president – advocacy, in a blunt letter to the administration’s deputy administrator.

U.S. Representative Brian Babin has introduced legislation to delay the mandate by two years.

Sullivan said efforts to delay the rollout are “misguided, are supported by misinformation, and are simply an attempt to evade compliance with the existing laws and regulations governing duty hours and driver fatigue.”

The letter from ATA cited an 11.7% drop in crash rates and 50% drop in Hours of Service violations in a 2014 administration report that compared paper and electronic logs. It also noted that arguments against Electronic Logging Devices have been rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

“Supporters of a delay are attempting to accomplish, almost at the 11th hour, what they’ve been unable to do in the courts, Congress or with the agency: roll back this common sense, data-supported regulation based on at best specious and at worst outright dishonest arguments,” Sullivan said.

The letter rejects arguments that the devices infringe on a driver’s rights to privacy, noting that the ELDs simply record Hours of Service by different means, and that privacy and harassment protection has been built into the rules. As for whether the timing would affect holiday shipments from arriving on time, he added that the rule does not place any new limits on the hours a driver can work. “It is irrational to believe that the only way America’s holiday gifts can be delivered is by maintaining an antiquated paper system.”

Referencing worries that drivers will change careers because of such a mandate, Sullivan noted that many drivers already use the devices. “The argument that drivers will quit en masse doesn’t hold water,” he said. “In fact, ATA members repeatedly tell me that after initially resisting using ELDs, their drivers now swear by the technology and refuse to work without it.” 

“One final note on this rule – beyond being thoroughly debated and litigated – using an electronic logging device to record hours-of-service is the right thing to do. It is using more accurate, easier to access and most importantly, more difficult to falsify, 21st Century technology to demonstrate compliance with the HOS rather than an easy-to-falsify, error prone and 18th Century technology of a paper and pencil,” he said.

“By again raising this issue, Congress has begun a process that may result in FMCSA being required to produce yet another report to address issues relating to the implementation and use of Electronic Logging Devices.”

The letter calls on the agency to answer questions about whether the technology is ready, if the rules would place an unreasonable burden on drivers, if the enforcement community will be ready, whether highway safety would be served by a delay, and if compliance to existing Hours of Service rules would be improved by a delay.

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