Editorial: A Sensible Phase-In

The nation’s safety inspectors for trucks and buses have announced a sensible policy for enforcement of the mandate for electronic logging devices — a phased-in approach. That should help lessen disruption in the already-challenging task of moving freight, and that is entirely a good thing.

As we report, state inspectors will start writing citations on Dec. 18 against drivers and trucking companies operating commercial vehicles that are not equipped with ELDs. Considering that a much-publicized final rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said this should happen, no one should be too surprised.

The sensible accommodation announced by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is that drivers and trucks will not be placed out-of-service starting in mid-December. Rather, that ultimate sanction will be postponed until April 1, 2018.

“The phase-in is intended to encourage compliance, but not be unreasonable. But make no mistake about it, enforcement is going to happen,” CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney told our reporter. CVSA represents truck and bus inspectors throughout North America.

Scofflaws running without ELDs during the December-to-April period still face the possibility of monetary fines and points on their CSA records, just not the out-of-service call.

The stair-step approach to enforcement has been done before, including in 2004 for a rule on cargo securement. This is a sound process for addressing a complicated new rule.

Some people have called for a moratorium on any enforcement until state governments have had a chance to weigh in. We are staunchly opposed to that idea.

The last thing trucking needs is 50 sets of state trucking regulations. Such chaos would make operations impossible.

Law enforcement in New Mexico, Oregon, Missouri, Connecticut and South Carolina will never be perfectly identical, but inspectors in those states — and all of the rest — should at least be largely in sync.

The intelligent step taken by CVSA members should help ensure that happens.

And while we are on the subject of ELDs, the House of Representatives is considering an amendment that would de-fund enforcement of the FMCSA rule. We would be pleased to see this amendment dry up and blow away.

The ELD mandate is a good, fair rule that serves a useful purpose. It will help with uniform enforcement of driver hours of service.

The mandate should begin on time.