By: Allan M. Siegel
On April 1st, officials began enforcement of a new trucking industry regulation requiring
truck drivers and trucking operators to use electronic logging devices
(ELDs). Although that system provides greater oversight of truckers and
helps ensure accountability in terms of reducing risks associated with
driver fatigue and violations of Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules, not everyone
is thrilled about them – particularly the trucking industry.
As we have discussed in our blog posts, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
released a new rule in 2016 that would require drivers to used ELDs. Electronic logging devices,
or e-logs as they are sometimes called, have been a major step in protecting
the public against risks posed by devastating
truck accidents, especially at a time when many other trucking regulations are being challenged,
blocked, or rolled back. Here are few important details about ELDs:
- Electronic logging devices are intended to replace paper logs, which are
more susceptible to manipulation and fraudulent entries.
- ELDs work by automatically recording the amount of time commercial trucks
spend on the road, in addition to recording vehicle movement, engine hours,
GPS location, and miles driven.
- ELDs were adopted by federal regulators to better enforce Hours-of-Service
rules, which prohibit truckers from being on the road for too long, and
require mandatory rest breaks and time off duty. HOS rules and enforcement
are critical to reducing risks posed by tired, fatigued, and overworked truckers.
- Since the rule was implemented, trucking operators subject to the new safety
regulation had ample time to comply. Some commercial carriers, including
tow truck services, operators of model year 2000 or older commercial trucks
or busses, and truckers who use time cards were exempted from the rule.
Although advocates and even some trucking industry organizations have supported
the rule and its expected benefit to regulation enforcement and public
safety, others – particularly operators and corporations with financial
interests in trucking – have been boisterous about their opposition.
According to these parties, ELDs are expensive and unnecessary, and create
yet another barrier to trucking companies already facing a chronic
shortage of commercial drivers.
While the trucking industry wants the public to believe ELDs are unnecessary
and that they unfairly limit “wiggle room” afforded by recording
Hours of Service on paper, the reality is that “wiggle room”
is nothing more than an opportunity for trucking companies to skirt their
legal obligations, continue driving beyond federal limits, and continue
the chronic decades-long problem of falsified logbooks noted by regulators.
Any arguments about expenses and “too much oversight” voiced
by truckers serve only to distract the public from the true motivations
of trucking companies – minimize regulations and maximize profits.
Other arguments, though minor in scope, include issues over better certification
of devices to ensure accuracy, and potential adjustments based on uncontrollable
factors such as weather. Those issues have better chances of being addressed
with sensible policies than calling for a ban on ELDs altogether.
Continued Challenges to Trucking Regulations
While many safety advocates can see the trucking industry’s arguments
against ELDs for what they are, the industry has still been cultivating
support for efforts that attack the new rule. In fact, a panel discussion
on ELDs recently held at the Mid-American Trucking Show were a focal point
of the freight industry’s largest annual event, and ELD protestors
converged on Washington in October to protest their use. Even as the industry’s
largest trade group (the American Trucking Associations) supports the
ELD rule, many trucking operators are making direct calls for President
Donald Trump to roll back regulation, just as his administration rolled
back or blocked development of other trucking safety regulations.
With the ELD rule now in effect and subject to enforcement, trucking companies
will likely continue their efforts to voice dissatisfaction and support
for removing the rule. Regardless of their opinions on the matter, however,
the new rule is now law, and it must be abided by. Those who violate the
ELD rule not only face repercussions from federal regulators, but also
increased scrutiny from any victims and families harmed in trucking accidents
where drivers were found to have been on the road for too long, or without
sufficient rest breaks.
Representation for Truck Accident Victims in DC, Maryland & Virginia
As a law firm that fights for truck and tractor-trailer accident victims
across Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata
& Siegel, P.C. closely follows developments, trends, and initiatives
involving the trucking industry and federal regulations. We know the issues
that rise to the top of debates are common issues found in trucking collisions
– from overworked and fatigued truckers to violations of safety
weight limits, vehicle maintenance, and more. Our insight and constant focus on these
topics enable us to provide the highest quality representation to victims
and families when they need it most.
If you or someone you love were recently harmed in a commercial trucking
accident, our legal team is available to discuss your case, the potential
issues involved, and your right to take legal action.
Contact us for a free consultation.