ELD, speed limiter opponents draw ire of Trucking Alliance
WASHINGTON — The controversy over electronic logging devices and speed limiters has been keeping courier services busy as proponents and opponents flood the U.S. Department of Transportation and Capitol Hill with arguments in support of their respective stances.
The latest is a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sent Wednesday by the Trucking Alliance refuting a coalition’s arguments against ELDs and speed limiters put forth in a March 21 letter to Chao that was signed by 17 transportation-related organizations, the most prominent of which was the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
OOIDA officials said Wednesday the association was asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling in a case filed by OOIDA that upheld the ELD mandate.
The letter signed by the 17 organizations said the ELD mandate and proposed speed limiter rule would collectively cost $2.845 billion to implement without providing “any meaningful safety or economic value to our members or the American public.”
The groups said ELDs would cost $2 billion and speed limiters $845 million.
Pointing to President Donald Trump’s January 30 executive order “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” the organizations said both regulations met the cost threshold included in the administrations interim guidance to be considered significant regulations under the executive order.
Trump’s order requires the elimination of two existing regulations for each newly proposed federal rulemaking.
The letter called the ELD mandate one of the most expensive federal rulemakings advanced by the Obama administration, even though work on an ELD mandate stretches back to the Bush administration where then Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator John Hill was a strong proponent of ELDs, then called Electronic Onboard Recorders, of EOBRs.
“Because the [ELD] technology is primarily used to manage large fleets of vehicles and is incapable of automatically recording changes in a driver’s duty status, this mandate comes with no economic or safety value for our members or the wide range of customers who rely on truck transportation,” the March 21 letter said. “Meanwhile, the small number of large corporations that benefit from the utilization of ELDs are already using the technology to monitor their productivity. In light of these factors, implementation of the mandate will force our members to bear all the $2 billion in costs associated with the installation of these devices, imposing wholly unnecessary financial and compliance burdens on American businesses of all sizes.”
The letter writers said Trump’s desire to create a regulatory environment that enables businesses of all sizes to grow is commendable and welcomed.
“However, to do so this administration must eliminate the most egregious regulations developed under the haphazard, one-size-fits-all approach to rulemaking embraced by its predecessor. The delay and removal of the ELD mandate, as well as the elimination of the proposed speed limiter rule will provide immediate and overdue regulatory relief to a wide variety of industries, allowing them to devote greater resources to growth. Of all the regulations your department will consider repealing under the executive order, none will have a greater positive impact on American businesses than these two costly and burdensome rules.”
The Trucking Alliance letter encourages Chao to support safety reforms, including ELDs and speed limiters.
“Recent arguments by a few transportation and business groups that urged you to delay these safety reforms are not only self-serving to these groups, but would be counterproductive to the DOT’s mission to improve transportation safety for all Americans,” the Alliance letter said.
The letter was signed by Trucking Alliance President Steve Williams, who is chairman and CEO of Maverick USA in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Alliance Vice President Kevin Knight, executive chairman of the board of Knight Transportation in Phoenix.
The Alliance listed four arguments for ELDs.
- They would save lives. “FMCSA has evaluated the inherent safety benefits that accrue to carriers that utilize ELDs — an 11.7 percent reduction in crash rates and a 50 percent reduction in Hours of Service violations. Further, the agency estimates that after ELDs are fully installed in all interstate commercial trucks, 1,844 large truck crashes will be avoided, reducing injuries and saving the lives of at least 26 people each year.”
- They will improve a truck driver’s quality of life. Drivers’ work ethics and commitment to perform well are often placed at cross purposes, either directly or indirectly, with expectations that force drivers to extend their work hours beyond what the human condition can safely and legally perform. ELDs will provide drivers with a method to withstand these pressures.”
- They are not over-regulation. “ELDs enable trucking companies and drivers to proudly demonstrate their enviable work ethic, but within the legal framework of federal HOS rules. Industrywide compliance will ensure that drivers are better rested, safer and more secure in their jobs.”
- They will improve efficiencies throughout the U.S. supply chain. “ELDs will define the maximum capacity of the trucking industry. That will enable the shipping community to shift its focus away from supporting longer truck driving hours to eliminating inefficiencies and waste
within the supply chain. For example, Trucking Alliance carriers can verify that a typical over-the-road truck driver spends about 6.5 hours each day actually driving. The other 4.5 hours which could legally be spent on the road are spent at the shipper location, sitting in the truck and waiting to load or unload freight.”
The Alliance letter said the organization “strongly believes that excessive large truck speeds are critical factors in the severity of injuries and fatalities in large truck accidents.”
It supports a 65-mph speed limit for large trucks.
The speed limiter rule is currently in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking status and is jointly supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.