2017 was a big year for America’s trucking industry. We saw changes in regulations, court cases, protests, implementation of the ELD mandate, and so much more.
In this post, we’ll recap the major events that happened during 2017. Moreover, we will also shed some light on what we can expect in 2018 now that the ELD mandate has become mandatory.
Let’s start from the beginning.
A freeze on new regulations
One of the first actions by President Donald Trump was calling for a freeze on new regulations. Not everybody was certain how the regulation freeze would affect the trucking industry, but it did eventually delay the implementation of the driver training rule until later that year.
However, it didn’t have a lot of effects otherwise.
Elimination of two regulations for every new one
Another action by President Donald Trump instructed federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for each new regulation. The step was taken specifically to ease the regulatory burden that small businesses often have to face.
Because new regulations could not be announced so frequently or easily after Mr. Trump’s action, we saw the end of the sleep apnea rulemaking as well as a delay of a potential speed limiter mandate.
Clarification of ELD compliance extensions
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued clarifications and new guidance regarding the ELD mandate compliance extensions and non-compliant devices in February 2017.
According to the FMCSA’s guidance, carriers could use AOBRDs until December 16, 2019. The guidance also clarified that carriers would remain compliant if an AOBRD is transferred to a new truck, provided the new truck replaces another truck. On the other hand, Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AOBRDs) would not be considered compliant if the carrier installs an AOBRD — after December 18, 2017 — in a vehicle that does not replace another truck in the carrier’s operations.
Following is the FMCSA’s announcement:
“If your operation uses AOBRDs and you replace vehicles in your fleet with new commercial motor vehicles, you can install existing AOBRDs in the new CMVs. However, you may not purchase and install a new AOBRD in a vehicle after Dec 18, 2017.”
The 34-hour restart regulations
The FMCSA rolled back the 34-hour restart regulations that require two consecutive early morning periods.
According to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation (DoT), the changes implemented in the 2013 hours-of-service rule showed no additional safety benefits. Therefore, the FMCSA announced that it would end the 34-hour restart regulations.
The Safety Fitness Determination rule
In March 2017, the DoT announced the withdrawal of the Safety Fitness Determination rule. The trucking industry had some concerns over the effectiveness and accuracy of the CSA program’s Safety Measurement System, so the FMCSA decided to withdraw the Safety Fitness Determination rule and start over.
The legal battle against the ELD mandate
In a major development, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the lawsuit challenging the ELD mandate rule.
Earlier, a lower court had released a decision in favor of the ELD mandate. The OOIDA filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the ELD case. However, the U.S. Supreme Court declined the request and effectively ended the legal battle against the FMCSA’s ELD rule.
The FMCSA granted two waivers
The FMCSA granted two waivers to all carriers after evaluating UPS’s request on exemptions from certain portions of the ELD mandate.
- According to the first waiver, drivers using phone-based ELDs would be allowed to change their duty status even when they are away from their commercial vehicle.
- The second waiver allowed multiple yard moves without requiring to re-enter the “yard move” status on the device.
A 90-day ELD waiver for ag haulers
The FMCSA granted a special 90-day ELD waiver to livestock and ag haulers.
A livestock hauler coalition requested the FMCSA on October 30 for an ELD mandate extension. They highlighted that ag haulers face unique challenges that would make it very difficult for them to comply with the electronic logging device mandate in its current state.
The FMCSA recognized that although the challenges are mostly related to the hours-of-service regulations, the agency would need to give further consideration to the agriculture industry’s adoption of ELDs.
Based on the 90-day ELD waiver, ag haulers have until mid-March to comply with the ELD mandate. According to the FMCSA, the temporary 90-day extension would give the agency enough time to look into the problems that ag haulers face and make ELD compliance easier for them.
A 90-day ELD waiver for TRALA
The FMCSA also decided to give a 90-day ELD waiver to the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRATA) for short-term rental trucks that are being rented out for 30 or fewer days.
Earlier, in October 2017, TRALA requested for a 5-year ELD mandate exemption for short-term rental trucks that are rented for 30 days or less. However, the FMCSA granted the exemption to trucks that are rented for 8 or fewer days. Later, the FMCSA revisited its decision to grant the exemption to trucks rented for 30 or fewer days.
Implementation of the ELD mandate
After two years of finalizing and publishing the rule, protests, and legal battles, the ELD mandate was implemented on December 18, 2017 as scheduled.
New personal conveyance guidelines
In December 2017, the FMCSA also proposed slightly altered personal conveyance guidelines for truckers who use their commercial vehicles for personal purposes, such as traveling to their homes, motels, or restaurant along their routes.
The slightly modified personal conveyance guidelines would allow truckers to use their vehicles for personal conveyance even if they’re carrying work or load-related items.
What to expect in 2018?
There are more than a few things that we can expect from 2018.
First of all, the DoT has announced that truckers without ELDs won’t be placed out of service until April 1, 2018. Moreover, ELD violations also won’t affect CSA scores until April 1, 2018.
After April 1, we will see ELD violations affecting CSA scores as well as the enforcement of the OOS criteria. In the meanwhile, we also expect more carriers and non-exempt truckers to install compliant electronic logging devices.
As ELDs promote automation and accuracy, we expect to see a significant reduction in the number of violations. In fact, we already see a rising trend of clean inspections and fewer hours-of-service violations.
Furthermore, as the FMCSA estimated, the ELD mandate would improve road safety and minimize the number of accidents.
Lastly, we also expect to see better market conditions favoring truckers. The first week after the ELD mandate implementation date led to a tighter market, and the national load-to-truck ratio for vans hit an all-time high (10.1 loads per truck). Although some of it may be associated with the holiday season, we expect that the ELD mandate will improve the market situation even more in favor of commercial truckers.
The ELD mandate is in full effect, and non-exempt truckers require compliant electronic logging devices.