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 Administration (FMCSA) 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 regulations over cargo securement, 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.