Although driver hours of service (HOS) is now firmly sewn into the trucking industry, it was a subject of contention in the months leading up to the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate in late 2017.
U.S. trucking fleets were mandated to install ELDs as gatekeepers to monitor cab activity and enforce laws in an effort to curb HOS violations. Law enforcement agencies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) all had reported regular inconsistencies in HOS numbers when they went to audit carriers.
As HOS recorded the highest incidence of noncompliance with regulations, it led to the promulgation of new rules that were originally published in 2015, formalizing a four-year phased implementation of ELDs in the industry. The soft enforcement of the ELD mandate happened in December 2017, followed by the hard enforcement in April 2018, when violators were cited and fined for not having ELDs on board.
However, the mandate did not explicitly require an ELD. It also allowed automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs), an older version of an electronic log. AOBRDs were already in use, particularly among larger carriers, and allowed under the mandate.
The ELD mandate set off a loud conversation on the merits of having the government push stringent regulations down truckers’ throats. A large part of the driving community objected to the new rules, calling them restrictive and a blow to their privacy and driving routine.
As a result, driver compliance was precipitously low during the initial months of the soft enforcement, with a sizable portion of fleets buying their ELDs only a few days before the hard enforcement came into place.
Many independent operators and small fleet owners claimed they would quit the industry due to draconian laws, while some believed they would run out of business. However, nearly three years into the regulation, the situation has changed dramatically, with ELDs now being looked at favorably within the industry.
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