The House Appropriations Committee stamped approval on legislation that funds the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the 2018 fiscal year. A panel of lawmakers also advised the DoT to study and evaluate whether a “full or targeted delay” of the ELD mandate would be an appropriate option.
However, it is improbable that the ELD mandate would get a major overhaul, canceled, or even get delayed.
It’s Just a ‘Consideration’
First of all, it is important to understand that it is just a consideration to delay. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation released an explanatory report in which it is asking the DOT to evaluate whether or not it would be appropriate to delay the ELD mandate, and whether the DOT would even have the authority to do so. Even if the bill is passed, the only requirement is for the DOT to do an evaluation; there is no confirmation of a “full or targeted delay”
Is the ELD Mandate Really a Business Burden?
On the same note, it would be appropriate to discuss whether or not the ELD mandate is a heavy burden — especially on small carriers.
In the above-mentioned report, the House mentioned that the cost of ELD implementation is around $2,000,000,000, which is overstated. With so many efficient ELD solutions out there, the cost of ELD implementation has reduced significantly.
For instance, with cost-effective options such as the KeepTruckin ELD solution, small fleets and owner-operators can now become compliant from as low as just $20 per month — with no additional charges whatsoever.
The ELD mandate isn’t just a burden to fleets or small carriers. It’s a technology upgrade, and its various benefits outweigh its cost. For instance, the FMCSA estimates the average annual cost of an ELD to be $495 per CMV. On the other hand, ELDs would save fleets a lot of money by reducing paperwork, streamlining operations, and automating administrative tasks. Drivers are expected to save at least 20 hours every year on paperwork by using ELDs. Assuming industry’s current rate of $1.96 per mile and an average speed of 50mph for a moving CMV, that alone would save $1,960 every year — which is four times higher than the annual cost of an ELD.
Congress Was a Part of the ELD Mandate
Although the FMCSA hasn’t yet addressed the details of the House measure, they released a written statement that Congress itself ordered the ELD mandate as part of the MAP-21 highway law and “requires only the most basic, lowest cost devices that still meet the statutory requirements.”
Furthermore, the FMCSA, defending the years of work that went into the development of ELD mandate, said that it would “work with Congress on the issues they identify” for improving safety. However, the odds of the FMCSA will change their mind and assist with a “full or targeted delay” after already having gone through a lengthy rulemaking process is very unlikely.
Trucking Groups Support the ELD Mandate
The American Trucking Associations extended its support to FMCSA and said that “ATA is committed to helping FMCSA as it moves toward meeting the December implementation deadline for this critical safety rule.”
The Trucking Alliance also echoed same thoughts in a statement and said that ELDs will “save lives” and “there is no valid reason to delay this much-needed truck safety measure.”
The Supreme Court has Already Favored the ELD Mandate
At this stage, it is also important to remember that the Supreme Court has already denied all attempts to repeal the ELD mandate.
OOIDA, on several occasions, took the ELD mandate to courts and got denied every time. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with all arguments made by OOIDA and said that the final ELD mandate “is not arbitrary or capricious, nor does it violate the Fourth Amendment.”
Going against the safety of people and the decision made by the Supreme Court would be near impossible. Also, since it was already in process before President Trump’s inauguration, the ELD mandate is not included in his efforts to halt new regulations.
As mentioned in the report, the Committee only directs the DOT to evaluate whether or not a full or targeted delay in ELD implementation and enforcement would be appropriate.
For now, the ELD mandate deadline is still December 18, 2017, and all signs point towards the fact that the compliance date won’t change.