When the most recent transportation bill (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP – 21), was passed in 2012, the Department of Transportation was tasked with developing rules that would require the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) in all commercial vehicles operating in interstate commerce. The primary purpose of these rules would be to ensure that all drivers are in conformance with hours of service (HOS) rules.
On March 28, a year late, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finally published its proposal, asking for comments by May 27. FMCSA has stated that its new rules will eliminate disagreements about HOS conformance, reduce paperwork and most important, improve highway safety. The mandate will become effective two years after the final rules are published.
While there have been some objections to the “big brother is watching” implications, most responsible drivers agree that the ELDs will keep everyone – both drivers and over zealous dispatchers – honest and improve safety on the highways. Just recently, in Illinois, a driver was accused of being behind the wheel for more than 35 hours without mandated breaks and falsifying his log book, after a crash that killed one person and critically injured another.
To me, the major issue is not the ELD mandate. It is the time it has taken to implement this beneficial technology. It has taken DOT two years to develop the rules, and it will take another two years for them to become effective.