Independent truckers take ELD fight to Congress, states

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. – An organization of independent truckers continues to battle the federal electronic logging device mandate nearly four months after it became effective.

After failed efforts to defeat the rule in the federal regulatory agencies and courts, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has turned its focus to the U.S. Congress and state legislatures.

In a letter sent last month to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, OOIDA asked for an oversight hearing into the “serious difficulties” their constituents are experiencing.

The association said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has not sufficiently addressed the many technical issues that commercial motor carriers have experienced with ELD adoption.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao heard complaints from four congressmen during a recent appearance before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, told her the ELD mandate is counterproductive and harming the national economy.

Chao replied that she is sympathetic to the industry’s concerns but is “very much constrained by the law.”

Efforts to undercut the ELD regulation are underway in at least six states, according to the trade news site Idaho and Alabama are seeking federal relaxation of the rule for agricultural and livestock shippers. South Dakota has passed a resolution asking Congress and the FMCSA “to overturn the rules.”

Legislation has been proposed in Missouri and Wyoming to forbid state enforcement of the ELD regulation. A Tennessee bill would prohibit the use of state funding for ELD enforcement.

Industry experts don’t expect those efforts to make a difference.

“It is difficult to imagine any state pre-emption that would apply to interstate travel,” said Ken Presley, vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs and industry relations/COO for the United Motorcoach Association. “Keep in mind that you do not have to go out of state to be engaged in interstate commerce.”

There could be repercussions for an official prohibition of state ELD enforcement, Presley said.

“It seems likely that any state attempt to pre-empt federal regulations would jeopardize federal Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) funds,” he said.

A section of the Code of Federal Regulations says, “No State shall have in effect or enforce any State law or regulation pertaining to commercial motor vehicle safety in interstate commerce which the Administrator finds to be incompatible with the provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.”

According to FMCSA, “MCSAP is a Federal grant program that provides financial assistance to States to reduce . . . commercial motor vehicle-involved crashes, fatalities, and injuries through consistent, uniform, and effective CMV safety programs. MCSAP is FMCSA’s largest grant program that supports state and local law enforcement agencies to utilize over 12,000 enforcement officers to increase enforcement and safety activities nationwide.”

MCSAP funding for the 2018 federal fiscal year is $298.9 million.

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