The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Dec. 10 issued its Final Electronic-Logging Device Rule (ELD), mandating the use of technology by commercial drivers to log their hours of service (HOS) data effective December 2017.
Drivers who begin using an ELD will no longer be required to keep and maintain paper logs, but will be required to maintain supporting documentation – such as shipping documents and fuel purchase receipts -- for carriers or owner-operators to keep on file. It is estimated that about 3 million drivers will be impacted.
The rule applies to all trucks operating in interstate commerce and subject to the hours-of-service regulations, except for pre-2000 model year trucks. Carriers that install a compliant advanced onboard recording device (AONRD) prior to the compliance date have the option to continue using that device for an additional two years following the December 2017 compliance deadline.
The use of ELDs has long been a divisive issue for the trucking industry as fleets and owner-operators disagreed over the merits of switching to automated log books from paper and pencil.
The American Trucking Associations thinks the rule will further enhance industry safety and quickly praised the rule as a historic day for trucking. The Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) conversely said it plans to mount a legal challenge to what it considers regulatory over-reach.
OOIDA has long held that electronic logs will allow dispatchers to pressure drivers to stay on the road. OOIDA challenged the Department of Transportation’s 2010 final rule mandating electronic onboard recorders in a federal appeals court and won in 2011.
FMCSA said its final rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs. A separate FMCSA rulemaking aims to further safeguard drivers from being coerced to violate HOS regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions against motor carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries.
The ELD rule sets technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers can produce compliant devices and systems.
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