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E-log Deadline for Truckers Pushed Back

E-log Deadline for Truckers Pushed Back

The final rule for electronic logging devices (ELD) was supposed to go into effect on September 30th but Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Department of Transportation (DOT) has just pushed that deadline back a month further to October 30th. They agency is still awaiting approval from the Office of Management and Budget. The DOT report stated the reason for the delay was “additional coordination necessary” and being short staffed. The final rule will require that all trucking and busing companies must have their drivers use electronic devices to monitor the hours they spend driving, as opposed to using the hand written logs that have been in place for decades.

The rule first came to be in 2012 as a result of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The ELD rule sets standard minimums in performance and design for the ELDs themselves that will track hours driven to make sure truckers and their companies are in compliance with the new hours of service restrictions. Any driver that is currently required to submit hours of service records will now be obligated to use an ELD to do so. Another topic addressed is how HOS supporting documents will be covered. The rule also sets parameters to deal with any harassment of drivers that could arise from using ELD, such as drivers logging less time spent driving and therefore not reaching their delivery destinations as fast as their employers and shipping companies would like.

Once published, trucking companies will have two years to become compliant. The will need to choose and purchase what systems they want to use as well train all drivers and supporting personnel on how to operate the new devices and equipment. Some trucking executives think that this could take up to a year to implement.

In a statement about their proposal the FMCSA said that not only will the e-logs keep drivers in compliance, “the proposed rulemaking would significantly reduce the paperwork burden associated with hours-of-service recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers…and improve the quality of log book data. While most industry observers can see a need for electronic logging to take over the archaic paper logs, there are mixed feelings on the use of e-logs across the board. While the FMCSA can see benefits for trucking companies and their drivers, many are still indignant about using e-logs.

Truckers mostly see pay cuts. Many drivers are in the habit misrepresenting their time on a handwritten logbook in order to avoid unwanted notice from law enforcement, but still come out with a decent paycheck. The e-logs will make it much harder for such indiscretions to go undiscovered. They will have to closely follow the hours of service guidelines and their usual long-haul deliveries will take longer than normal in a time where there is already a growing shortage of truck drivers.

Carriers see tighter capacity. One reports shows that trucking industry executives are expecting to lose anywhere from 8 to 20% capacity when the ELD rule goes into effect. Derek Leathers, president and chief operating officer of Werner Enterprises, spoke at a conference and said, “We’re talking about a significant reduction in capacity over the next few years.” He expected the affect to be felt well into 2017, if not longer.

Shippers are worried about higher shipping rates from carriers. Jason Sidel, an analyst for Cowan and Company, wrote this on the subject, “The potential capacity decline may provide carriers with pricing power beyond what we have seen in the contractual market this year. With a two-year integration timeframe, this likely provides strong pricing tailwinds in both 2016 and 2017 as long as the economy holds together. Carrier focus has largely turned toward increasing driver retention.” To make up for that loss in capacity, carriers are likely to increase the cost of hauling and shippers with have to pay it.

Yet the FMCSA is sure the change is for the betterment and safety of not only truckers and those they work for, but for all motorists traveling the highways across America. In a FMCSA message, the department’s Administrator Scott Darling wrote, “I can say that the rule is designed to benefit everyone by improving hours of service (HOS) compliance, which we estimate will prevent about 20 fatalities and over 400 injuries each year; helping businesses cut paperwork and save money; protecting drivers from harassment; and making it easier for law enforcement and safety inspectors to review driver HOS records.” The agency also expects a yearly safety benefit of $394.8 million.

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