Officials to phase in ELD enforcement

GREENBELT, Md. – Commercial motor vehicle inspectors will begin issuing citations in December for noncompliance with the new electronic logging device mandate, but they will hold off on issuing out-of-service orders until April 2018.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance notified the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of its enforcement plans in a recent letter.

“In order to ease the transition and to help those motor carriers that have not prepared for the ELD requirement, CVSA has elected to begin applying the out-of-service criteria (OOSC) associated with the ELD mandate on April 1, 2018,” the alliance said in its letter.

“Setting a new April 1, 2018, effective date for applying the ELD OOSC will provide the motor carrier industry, shippers and the roadside enforcement community with time to adjust to the new ELD requirement with minimal disruption to the delivery of goods.

“However, on April 1, 2018, non-compliant drivers will be placed out of service.”

The mandate was issued in 2015 by FMCSA and requires that interstate trucks and buses convert to ELDs by Dec. 18 of this year.

Efforts to derail or delay the mandate have failed in Congress and in the courts, meaning it is on track to take effect in two and a half months.

CVSA, which is made up of enforcement officials and strives to provide uniformity in enforcement of trucking and bus regulations, stressed to FMCSA that, despite what opponents of the ELD rule argue, “the enforcement community is ready to begin enforcement of the requirement on Dec. 18, 2017.”

“On that date, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting violations on roadside inspection reports and, at the jurisdiction’s discretion, will issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD.”

CVSA Executive Director Collin B. Mooney said in the letter to FMCSA that the alliance’s member jurisdictions have used the phased approach in the past when implementing significant changes in regulatory requirements.

Phasing in ELD enforcement, Mooney wrote, “will help promote a smoother transition to the new ELD requirement.”

FMCSA said the delay in out-of-service enforcement does not affect the date by which buses and trucks must adopt an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD). Motor carriers are allowed to continue using AOBRDS, which have more limited functionality than ELDs, through Dec. 16, 2019, if they are installed before Dec. 18, 2017.

“After Dec. 18, 2017, if you don’t have an AOBRD or ELD the violation will be cited, and a driver could be fined, but they won’t be put out of service,” FMCSA spokesperson Duane DeBruyne told a trucking magazine recently.

“Companies that continually violate the rule could be subject to federal investigation as well,” DeBruyne said.

Efforts to kill or delay the mandate have so far been unsuccessful, but opponents have vowed to continue the fight.

The biggest opponent has been the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which recently lost its court battle to scuttle the rule when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear its appeal.

OOIDA also backed an effort in Congress to delay the mandate for two years, but that was voted down last month.

OOIDA tried yet another approach to delaying the mandate by filing a petition with FMCSA alleging that 26 states have not yet incorporated an electronic logging regulation into state law and are not authorized to enforce the rule until they do so.

The trucking association’s petition alleges that more than 20 of the states are years behind in adopting amendments and additions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations into state law. In order to qualify for federal grants under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program, states are required to incorporate the FMCSRs or their equivalent into state law.

“These are just examples of the monumental reasons this mandate is not ready for prime time,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “Too many states are not ready to roll out the mandate and can’t possibly be ready by the Dec. 18 deadline.”

However, several of the states targeted by OOIDA’s petition responded by saying that, as far as they were concerned, their regulatory codes, including the ELD mandate, were fully up to date.

As of mid-September, FMCSA hadn’t responded to OOIDA’s petition.

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