In 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act was signed by President Obama. Better known as MAP-21, it was primarily a funding bill for bike and walking trails, open-road tolling, and environmental review processes. However, it also contained the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. This rule mandated that all operators that are required to keep track of their time behind the wheel each day would need to use a small, flash drive-like device that synchronizes with the vehicle’s engine to record driving times.
This device ensures that operators are not on the road beyond the federally-mandated 14-hour limit, during which they can only be driving for 11. In the past, drivers could keep a log with pen and paper for police to check.
Obviously, that led to some loose bookkeeping that the ELD negates. The implementation of the rule was scheduled for last December, but due to technical difficulties with the devices, that timeline was pushed forward to April 2018.
The main thought driving Hours of Service laws, which have been in effect since 1934, is safety. However, truckers argue that the laws are flawed because they don’t account for delays stemming from the weather, traffic conditions, or the downtime associated with unloading and loading. So, while large trucking companies tend to endorse the laws, smaller independent truckers who are easily replaced, oppose them due to the negative impacts these regulations can have on keeping customers happy.
There’s also debate surrounding the devices themselves. In particular, the fact that manufacturers can self-certify their devices had led many truckers to question their reliability. This skepticism is supported by the fact that some devices have been found incompatible with certain trucks and law enforcement reading devices. These glitches are what prompted the law’s delay.
Frustration has also led to the creation of the #ELDorMe movement, as many drivers would rather quit than be managed by an electronic device. This reaction couldn’t come at a worse time for those who depend on semis to deliver raw materials and ship finished orders, as the American Trucking Association estimates that the industry currently has a shortfall of more than 50,000 drivers.