FMCSA Boss Makes Case Why ELD Mandate is Not to Blame For Rise in Big Rig Accidents

Washington D.C. – The Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is flatly denying assertions that the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate is to blame for the recent alarming increase in commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accidents.

The FMCSA hosted its virtual Truck Safety Summit on Wednesday which featured more than two-dozen panelists and speakers from a cross section of the industry, including trucking company and association executives, drivers, law enforcement officials, and safety advocates.


The Agency said the Summit was conducted in response to alarming data released last fall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing trucker crash deaths rose to a 30-year high in 2018.

Data released by NHTSA earlier this year indicates the problem is only worsening as trucker crash deaths are expected to rise even higher when the final numbers for 2019 are released later this year.

The concerning rise in trucker crash deaths happen to coincide with the full implementation and enforcement of the controversial ELD mandate.

During a public Q&A session, Jim Mullen was asked directly about the impact to safety that the ELD mandate has had.


The question posed to Mr. Mullen was:

The ELD [mandate] was touted as saving 26 lives per year. Today it has revealed many violations for simply “form violations.” Just because a driver is compliant does not mean he is safe. When is someone going to admit that the ELD mandate is not necessary?

Mr. Mullen responded by asserting the mandate has actually been an effective safety tool.

“I would suggest that a simplistic view [that] just because accident frequencies or fatalities have gone up, therefore ELDs don’t provide a safety benefit… I think that’s a thin analysis. There’s all types of contributing factors to accidents,” the Acting Administrator stated.

Despite assurances by the Agency and supporters of the mandate that it would save 26 lives per year, the actual real-world results so far have not born this out.

In fact, a bombshell academic study on the topic released in February of 2019 concluded crashes involving commercial big rigs actually increased after the implementation of the mandate.


Researchers at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business found that while crashes among mega carrier trucks decreased, crashes among independent owner-operators increased as much as 3.5% and 1.8% for carriers with two to six trucks.

When all the data from large carriers, small carriers and independent owner-operators was factored together, researchers concluded, “these numbers do not point to any obvious reduction in accidents due to the ELD mandate, and in some cases suggest a possible increase in accidents for those carriers most affected by the mandate.”


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However, despite this troubling data, the ELD mandate was not made an area of focus for the Agency during the Summit.

In fact, not a single panelist or moderator made reference to the study or its findings mentioned above.


Critics of the mandate such as the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, Small Business in Transportation Coalition, TruckerNation, United Transportation Association and the United States Transportation Alliance argue that despite the mandate leading to a drastic reduction in Hours of Service (HOS) violations, it has not led to safer results.

When asked specifically about this, Mr. Mullen did acknowledge that ensuring compliance with HOS rules, which is the primary function of the ELD, does not equate to safer outcomes.

“With that said, I don’t know that anybody is going to argue with the general premise that just because you’re in compliance with most regulations that you’re going to be safe,” he said.

Further, he expressed the Agency looks at the ELD mandate “holistically” when analyzing safety and accident data.



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Comment (14)

  1. Imagine that, the only variable that actually changed and accidents and fatalities shot straight up… This was never about safety, this is about control and money. We are nothing more than a cash cow to be milked at the drop of a hat. My teats are getting sore…

  2. What does Me Mullen know about safety? Werner is one of the most dangerous companies on our highways. Trucks out here running 70+ mph no matter the speed limit trucks cutting you off to be first at all cost 30mph in parking lots. Maybe if one of you my suits ever actually drove a truck you would see that paying by the mile and having time clock in an improperly trained seat warmers truck is probably the most dangerous thing ever for trucking

  3. The percentage of accidents have gone up since ELDs hit trucking in 99. If there are less deaths that box has nothing to do with it. If they were truly concerned about safety they’d do something about these poor drivers on the road. To many four wheelers are hazards, that combined with those same four wheelers getting CDLs is a problem. Cars and trucks need a system that won’t allow cell phone usage. They have it in some arenas so why not vehicles. Oh that’s right it wouldn’t make government’s money..

  4. Mr. Mullen you pencil neck qeek. Why don’t you go back under the rock you came out from. I bet you don’t even know what a inside of a truck looks like. I bet you don’t even know how to set the weight on them. How the hell are you going to tall us this bull. After a 10 hour break I am more tired then doing a 8 hour break. How are you going to tell my body when to sleep. When we work different hr. I see more truck rushing around so they can be on time with their deliverys. All you ass hole want to do is make more money off us. I’ve been driving since I was 18 teen i am 40 now and still going. You sir are wrong get this eld out of our trucks so we can go back to been safe. Stop trying to take our money. Truck stops do enough of that.

  5. Another thing that might help is if the fmcsa could change their drug testing crap. Started my own business..was threatened by the fmcsa to take a pre employment drug test then 2 weeks later a random..because i have a cdl i have a ” diminished expectation of privacy “. With no criminal record, no moving violation record , perfect work history, i believe if i want to do something on my free time it should be my choice. The FMCSA needs shut down and reorganized..what they are doing is creating paper work jams and wonder this ELD thing is creating more accidents, truckers cant get their rhythm..they stick inexperienced people in 40 ton vehicles..pester the shit out of them..threaten them with fines and shut downs..the industry is losing the cream of the crop drivers..its really too bad

  6. Back in the day, I slept when I was tired and drove when i was awake. Now days l drive no matter how tired i am because you don’t have a choice… except not getting paid.

  7. Why haven’t they fired Mullen and Choa. It’s clear they are not qualified for the job. The facts prove it and all they do is deny. Get rid of them.

  8. Typical government over reach and illogical bullshit, only the idiots in Washington would think ELDs and HOS makes a driver safer. They wouldn’t understand the meaning of safety if it jumped up and bit them in their lazy unintelligent asses

  9. Mullen belongs in prison! This isn’t about safety, this os simply about him making up BS rules so he has a job. And he doesn’t care if people die and companies go bankrupt in the process.


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