Truck Safety Group Thanks Obama For ‘Implementing ELDs’ in Happy 60th Birthday Wish
Washington D.C. – Truck safety advocates sent out a special thank you to former President Barack Obama as part of a happy birthday wish this week.
The former president celebrated his 60th birthday on Wednesday and the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) took the occasion to praise him for helping to bring about the controversial electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate.
“Thank you for bringing attention the need for change in truck safety policy,” TSC Tweeted. “Implementing ELDs to combat Truck Driver fatigue in MAP-21 was a success.”
Happy Birthday @BarackObama! Thank you for bringing attention the need for change in truck safety policy. Implementing Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to combat Truck Driver fatigue in MAP-21 was a success. We hope @POTUS can prioritize safety in the Senate Infrastructure Bill.
— TruckSafetyCoalition (@TruckSafetyOrg) August 4, 2021
Surface transportation reauthorization legislation known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), was signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012.
The bill included provisions requiring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to develop a rule that would mandate ELDs.
The Agency was also required to conduct a study as to how best to implement ELDs, as well as address concerns surrounding the risk of ELDs being used to coerce or harass drivers.
The Obama Administration’s Department of Transportation published the final ELD rule in December of 2015, and it officially went into effect in February of the next year.
A multi-phase adoption period was put in place with December 16, 2019 set as the mandatory compliance date.
How’s It Going?
The debate surrounding the ELD mandate was fierce.
Proponents claimed it would save 26 lives per year by reducing driver fatigue-related crashes while opponents argued it was both a violation of privacy rights and would lead to more driver fatigue than before.
A bombshell academic study on the topic released in February of 2019 created quite a stir within the trucking industry when it concluded crashes involving commercial big rigs actually increased after the soft implementation of the mandate in 2017.
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.”
Further, while researchers found the mandate significantly improved hours-of-service (HOS) compliance, it “did not noticeably improve safety, and we are able to produce no statistically significant evidence that ELD adoption by the smaller firms corresponded to any reduction in accident rates.”
Many truckers hoped the Trump Administration would take steps to eliminate the mandate.
While the FMCSA under former President Trump revised the HOS rules to give drivers more flexibility, no serious effort was made within the Transportation Department to either take steps to suspend the mandate or lobby Congress to repeal it.