A massive trucking regulation went into effect last week that could cost the industry up to $2 billion, according to a congressional report, and could put up to 150,000 independent truckers out of business, according to some critics.
The new regulation, drawn up by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, requires all truckers to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to to record their driving time, sleeping time and other activity information. Time requirements are in place to prevent truckers from becoming fatigued and posing a risk to themselves and other motorists. Until now, truckers could record this data on paper, which the Safety Administration claims has made it impossible to properly monitor them.
An ELD is a device that connects to the driver’s engine and monitors “engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information,” according to the Safety Administration. An ELD would cost companies on average $500 per year for each truck, according to Safety Administration estimates, but some vendors can cost as high as $832 per truck.
The new requirement should lead to more accurate records and prevent drivers from fudging their numbers and driving longer than allowed, the agency claims. It also estimates the the new regulation will save 26 lives annually and prevent 562 annual injuries. The regulation is estimated to save more than 25 lives and prevent more than 500 injuries, Duane DeBruyne, a representative from the Department of Transportation told the American Media Institute.
This doesn’t seem to be a problem for large businesses. UPS supports the regulation and the change will have no impact on their shipping costs, UPS spokesperson Kara Ross told the American Media Institute in an email. However, some smaller companies and independent truckers find it harder to cope with the mandates. Some have even challenged the claim that the regulation will have the intended effects. In reality, some claim the regulation will only be a burden on truckers – especially independent truckers or truckers in small businesses.
This regulation is not needed for safety, Norita Taylor, a representative from one of the most vocal critics, the Owner–Operator Independent Drivers Association, told the American Media Institute. In a document OOIDA released, titled “ELD: Assumptions versus Facts,” the association points out the ELDs can only measure one of the four required “duty statuses” of a driver, while all others must be documented manually. Although the ELD can measure when the car is running or moving, there is no way to measure off duty time, sleeping time and time in which a driver is on duty but not driving.
Essentially, drivers still may violate many rules if they were planning to do so in the first place. They could turn the engine off while in standstill traffic or documenting sleep when they are awake. Doing these things could lead to fatigue, but may be impossible to monitor.
Truck driving fatalities, in the last decade, have been on the decline, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The most recent numbers show total fatalities involving large trucks decreased from 4,886 in 2006 to 3,986 in 2016.
This $2 billion regulation would be one of the most expensive federal transportation rules in the last decade OOIDA pointed out in a press release. The piece argued that this “over-regulation” would target small businesses and make it more difficult for them to compete with larger companies that either already use ELDs or could easily afford the extra cost of them.
Independent truckers held protests late last month to voice concerns over upcoming regulations.