Editorial: Following the Rules

In less than a month, the business of trucking will change.

That’s the consensus of most when it comes to the federal mandate for use of electronic logging devices for the majority of truck drivers. The law is set to take effect Dec. 18, and we believe it’s a good thing for the industry. The mandate has its critics — most new laws do — but it also has the backing of the Trump administration, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Ray Martinez, the president’s nominee to take the reins of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The Nov. 20 issue of Transport Topics arrived with a special supplement produced to help motor carriers with the transition to ELDs. This supplement contains useful information for those who are ready, and also for those who, perhaps, are waiting a bit longer. And there’s still some time.

While phase-in of the ELD mandate draws nearer, a host of other potential changes for the industry are up in the air.

Capitol Hill is abuzz with talk of tax reform legislation, including provisions that could affect how infrastructure projects get funded. The House and Senate disagree on whether to include a type of bond that can be used for major road projects in the legislation. Where the legislative bodies ultimately land on the issue could affect how — and whether — much-needed upgrades to our nation’s roads get completed. That’s just part of the larger tax reform story, of course, but this speaks to the difficulty our nation’s lawmakers have when it comes to agreeing on issues of importance to businesses, including fleets.

While not an issue that affects every carrier, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rollback of Obama-era Phase 2 greenhouse gas standards for glider kits could be a harbinger of things to come from the Trump administration, which makes no secret of its interest in repealing regulations it deems burdensome. While glider kits make up a small share of the market — just 5% of on-highway trucks, per EPA — the proposal comes at the same time a federal court has halted implementation of Phase 2 GHG rules for trailers, another potential blow to a regulatory regimen years in the making.

It will be awhile before either of these issues is resolved, but the same was said about the ELD mandate during its early days. Regardless of your stance, if you care about these or other issues on Capitol Hill, speak up. Call or write your representative in Congress, or file comments in an official proceeding (comments on the glider kit proposal are due by Jan. 5). Whatever you do, don’t stand on the sidelines. When big moments of change come, you’ll want to have had a say.