Efforts to End ELD Mandate Intensify as Trucker Crash Deaths Reach 30-Year High
Washington D.C. – Trucking groups are stepping up calls for action against the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate in the wake of newly released data showing trucker crash deaths have risen to a 30-year high.
On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its completed traffic fatality report from 2018.
While overall fatalities declined by 2.4% in 2018, NHTSA reported an 0.9% increase in large truck occupant deaths.
Alarmingly, that was up even from 2017 when NHTSA reported large truck occupant deaths rose almost 5%.
A total of 885 large truck occupants perished in crashes last year.
That number marks the most since 1988 when 911 people died.
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Taking Aim At The ELD Mandate
The controversial ELD mandate’s first full year of enforcement came in 2018, so the NHTSA’s newest findings have emboldened critics of the mandate to once again voice their concern.
In fact, in the wake of the latest data, some trucking groups are intensifying calls to suspend or eliminate the mandate.
On Wednesday, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) sent a letter to U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-MS), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Representative Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
In it, SBTC president James Lamb asked for immediate action, writing:
We therefore write to you both today to respectfully ask you to please immediately suspend the ELD mandate and direct FMCSA to further study this issue to determine whether the ELD rule is ripe for repeal. We believe this would immediately relieve the strain on the industry and protect the public from more fatalities in the remainder of 2019 and moving forward.
SBTC’s letter argues the ELD mandate has not had the positive safety impact promised by advocates.
…the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had promised the industry and public that ELDs would save 26 lives per year, it now is evident this is not the case.
Further, Lamb argues the dangers of potential “hacking” and the FMCSA’s “failure” to adequately address the issue is reason enough to at least pause enforcement of the mandate “until the agency has time to thoroughly research telematic vulnerabilities and develop a bona fide telematic certification program as originally directed by Congress.”
The SBTC is not alone.
The trucker advocacy and educational group, TruckerNation, is also urging members of Congress to support legislation to exempt small trucking companies from the ELD mandate.
Founder of TruckerNation, Tony Justice, continues to use his considerable influence in the trucking community to voice his concerns about the mandate.
@HouseGOP @HouseDemocrats the eld mandate is smothering small trucking businesses. Even Obama Care didnt fit all business models and companys w 50 or less employees were exempt. Small trucking company’s and independents need a carve out for this mandate. @BrunnerFab @taylorbilt
— Tony Justice (@TheTonyJustice) October 23, 2019
The ELD saves mega fleets thousands of dollars by eliminating jobs, payroll taxes, insurance and vacation pay for log data entry employees. It fits their Biz model. It does nothing to help small trucking fleets & Independents. Support #HR1697 help Save Americas small business
— Tony Justice (@TheTonyJustice) October 23, 2019
Other influential groups also opposed to the ELD mandate such as the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA), the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC), and the United States Transportation Alliance (USTA) are likely to seize on the latest NHTSA data and call for action.
Speed Limiters: The Next Battle?
It will be interesting in the coming days to watch how ELD advocates such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Road Safe America, and the Trucking Alliance respond to the latest trucker fatality data.
Sources tell Transportation Nation Network (TNN) the NHTSA’s latest data will likely only embolden those supporting the newest effort to mandate speed limiters.
In June, U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, (R-GA) and Chris Coons, (D-DE) introduced the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019, S.2033.
The legislation would require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices, which must be set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and used at all times while in operation.
The maximum speed requirement would also be extended to existing trucks that already have the technology installed.
The legislation also establishes that all large trucks manufactured after the effective date will be equipped with speed-limiting technology.
Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO of Maverick USA in Little Rock, Arkansas, and co-founder and president of the Trucking Alliance has long been a strong supporter of mandating the use of speed limiters.
In a lengthy statement following the announcement of the legislation in June, Williams said speed limiters were “integral” to helping achieve the Trucking Alliance’s mission to “reduce and eventually eliminate all large truck fatalities.”
One thing both advocates and critics of the ELD mandate agree on is that truckers are “racing the clock” and speeding more than ever.
In the SBTC’s letter to Congress this week, Lamb addressed this issue also.
And while we are cognizant of the fact that some regulators will be quick to suggest the regulatory answer to reckless speeding is to mandate speed governors in commercial motor vehicles, such a move does not –and cannot –address speeding on local roads and in school and construction zones.
OOIDA has also long argued that speed limiters will only make U.S. roadways more dangerous.
TransportationNation.com will continue to bring you the latest on this developing battle.