US version of electronic work diaries goes live

Electronic logging device rules come with protections for drivers

US version of electronic work diaries goes live
Chris Spear sees tremendous benefits in using an ELD


The ‘electronic logging device’ (ELD), America’s electronic work diary (EWD), is now an enforceable fact on that country’s roads and highways.

Now, in accordance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) congressionally mandated ELD compliance deadline, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel can begin documenting violations and tackle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant device.

Peak body the American Trucking Associations, which backed and fought for the move, welcomed the milestone.

"Electronic logging devices have been legislated, promulgated and litigated – with Congress voting three times in the past five years in favor of this requirement and a federal court rejecting a challenge to the rule," ATA president and CEO Chris Spear says. 

"The time has finally come to retire decades-old, burdensome paper logs that consume countless hours and are susceptible to fraud and put the safety of all motorists first. The benefits of this rule exceed the costs by more than $1 billion, making it a rule the ATA can firmly support and easily adopt,"

Today marks the start of a new era of safety and efficiency for our industry and we thank the champions in the Department of Transportation and Congress who have gotten us to this point."

A rule requiring the use of an electronic logging device was first proposed in 2007, and was finalised in 2010 – but the rule now in effect is the result of bipartisan congressional agreement in 2012.

"We firmly believe that America's truck drivers – if they were operating legally within the hours-of-service rules before today – will see tremendous benefits in using an ELD," Spear says.

"Whether in reduced crashes, less time spent on paperwork or in fewer errors in their logbooks.

"The data, as well as our members' experiences, with this technology tells us that ELDs reduce crashes, increase compliance with the hours rules and ultimately benefit our industry and the motoring public."

The road safety lobby also reacted positively.

"Today, jurisdictions around the country are implementing the ELD requirement," executive director Collin Mooney, of North American non-profit association Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), says.

"Enforcement personnel have been trained in anticipation of the ELD rule and now that it is in effect, inspectors will be verifying hours-of-service compliance by reviewing records of duty status requirements electronically."

ELD implementation has faced industry and trucking company customer concern, particularly from livestock and agriculture quarters, particularly where waiting times to load are variable.

On November 20, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced transition guidance including a 90-day temporary hours-of-service waiver for transporters of agricultural commodities.

"FMCSA has listened to important feedback from many stakeholder groups, including agriculture, and will continue to take steps to ease the transition to the full implementation of the ELD rule," FMCSA deputy administrator Cathy F Gautreaux said at the time.

However, on April 1, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with the required ELD.

The ELD mandate does not change any of the underlying hours-of-service requirements.

Exempted are:

  • drivers who use paper logs no more than eight days during any 30-day period.
  • certain tow drivers
  • drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.         

The technology, which must be FMCSA-certified, supersedes paper and automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD), though the latter is legal but in phase-out by December 16, 2019.

Devices themselves can cost from about US$200 up but tend to come with a software bundle of US$40 a month and be linked to transport management system from the same provider.

ELD legislation bans companies from "harassment" or "coercion" of drivers and mandates an ELD mute function to ensure a driver is not interrupted in the sleeper berth.

Harassment only applies if the carrier’s action involved information from an ELD, or other technology used in combination with an ELD.

Coercion can involve trucking companies, shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries such as brokers and others

"Coercion is a threat to take adverse employment action against drivers, or to withhold business, employment, or work opportunities from drivers, to get them to violate FMCSA regulations," the FMCSA says.

"Carrying out such threats to punish drivers who refuse to violate the regulations also constitutes coercion.

"The ELD Rule specifically prohibits a motor carrier from coercing a driver to falsely certify his/her data entries or record of duty status."


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