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Trucker hours of service: ELD debate continues as lawmaker proposes delay

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Washington – In the latest attempt to push back a federal mandate requiring commercial motor vehicle drivers to use electronic logging devices in place of paper logs to track hours of service, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) has proposed legislation that would delay the rule’s implementation for two years.

The ELD final rule is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 18.

Babin introduced the ELD Extension Act (H.R. 3282) on July 18. “While technology like ELDs have great promise, I didn’t come to Washington to force those ideas on small businesses – and neither did President Trump,” Babin said in a July 19 press release. “If trucking companies want to continue implementing and using ELDs, they should go right ahead. But for those who don’t want the burden, expense and uncertainty of putting one of these devices into every truck they own by the end of the year, we can and should offer relief.”

Critics of the rule claim it will violate drivers’ privacy and leave them open to harassment from employers, and some say no evidence exists to prove the rule will save lives and prevent injuries.

Advocates for the rule believe using electronic devices will improve safety, efficiency and accuracy. In a letter sent to FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson on July 21, American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President for Advocacy Bill Sullivan said the final rule is “common-sense, data-supported regulation,” and efforts to roll it back are “based on, at best, specious and, at worst, outright dishonest arguments.”

Sullivan pointed to a 2014 FMCSA report that showed carriers using ELDs experienced 11.7 percent fewer crashes and a 50 percent reduction in hours-of-service violations compared with carriers that used paper logs.

The ELD Extension Act, meanwhile, has the support of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA’s previous attempts to block the final rule fell short in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit on Oct. 31 and the U.S. Supreme Court, which on June 12 declined to hear an appeal.

“[FMCSA] has failed to answer important questions from Congress and industry stakeholders about this mandate,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said in a statement released July 19. “This includes issues related to enforcement, connectivity, data transfers, cybersecurity vulnerabilities and many other legitimate real-world concerns.”

An article published July 26 in OOIDA’s Land Line magazine listed 16 other organizations that support the legislation.

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