Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill published a letter Nov. 29 asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to delay the electronic logging device rule, a move that prompted a quick response from the trucking industry.
The ELD rule mandates that commercial drivers who are required to record their hours of service do so with the devices. Hill said that “to immediately” require drivers to use ELDs “would place undue burdens on drivers and operators.” FMCSA divided ELD migration into three periods, beginning in 2016.
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Since February of that year, ELD manufacturers have been able to register and certify their devices with FMCSA, and motor carriers could elect to use ELDs listed on the agency’s website. However, Hill said that the government has not established guidance on the self-certifying process, forcing drivers to “fly blindly” as they research what products they are required to purchase.
Jennifer Hall, general counsel and executive vice president of American Trucking Associations, wrote a letter of response to Hill on Dec. 1. In it, Hall expressed full confidence that ELD vendors are ready for the mandate, and FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance have worked to make the transition as smooth as possible.
For example, CVSA has announced that it will not place any drivers operating without an ELD out of service until April 1. Furthermore, the letter notes that the final ELD rule has been “on the books” for almost two years and has received bipartisan congressional support.
“Your recommendation that FMCSA immediately delay the ELD implementation date is unnecessary,” Hall said in her letter.
In his request, Hill also urged FMCSA to clarify certain guidelines before proceeding with the mandate. For example, he said the agency’s Plan and Procedures Manual lacks information on testing schedules and quality assurance programs. Also, he said FMCSA’s website states that e-mail and web services testing environments are “coming soon.”
“This is particularly concerning considering the number of registered devices on the list currently who have yet to utilize these tools and the pressing compliance date,” Hill said. Furthermore, Hill stated that the technical specifications laid out in the ELD final rule are too complex and leave certain points open to interpretation. There also are no set testing standards that must be conducted prior to use, according to Hill.
He said trucking is important to Indiana, noting that almost 200,000 of the nation’s 3.5 million truckers are estimated to live there.
“As the deadline for compliance quickly nears, even a cursory perusal of industry trade publications provides clear evidence that many drivers and operators are completely unprepared for the proposed changes,” Hill said. “I urge your agency to put on hold the new requirements until you are able to develop guidelines that offer greater clarity to the individuals you expect to follow them.”
In her letter, ATA’s Hall said, “Delaying the implementation date will reward non-compliance while punishing law-abiding drivers and carriers, is contrary to the rule of law, and would redirect FMCSA resources away from the agency’s obligation to carry out existing laws and pursue its mission of safety.”