Legislation that would have delayed the electronic logging device mandate was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday night (Sept. 6), and industry leaders and analysts were positive on the decision.
“We have supported this effort for almost 20 years because we believe ELDs demonstrate the industry’s commitment to safety and compliance,” said Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association.
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, spoke against the amendment on the House floor. “A special thanks to our four Congressmen,” Newton said. “We appreciate their knowledge of the issue and the fact that they were not swayed by the delay tactics.”
It marked the fourth time Congress has voted to move forward with using electronic logs to track hours of service information required for decades, said Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations. “Make no mistake, the time for debate about electronic logging is over, and we’re pleased that Congress has rejected this ill-conceived effort to delay their implementation,” he said.
The delay failed 173 to 246 in the House, and the mandate is still expected to go into effect Dec. 18.
“Last night’s vote was a testament, not just to the broad and common sense support for ELDs, but to ATA’s members, allies and staff who pressed Congress to preserve this important safety rule,” said Bill Sullivan, executive vice president of advocacy for American Trucking Associations. “This vote is important. Complying with existing laws will make all who share the roads safer, and ATA will continue to work with FMCSA, carriers, drivers and law enforcement to ensure smooth implementation of this bipartisan effort on schedule in December.”
An anti-ELD amendment, introduced by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), included a legislative measure that would have prevented the Department of Transportation from spending money to enforce the mandate until Sept. 30, 2018, according to Brad Delco, trucking/transportation analyst for Stephens. “We are encouraged that this last ‘Hail Mary’ effort by the ELD mandate opposition was shut down and believe the end result shows the broad support for the mandate itself and should end the debate around delaying the mandate going forward.”
Babin also has a standalone bill, The ELD Extension Act of 2017, but with the amendment not passing, Delco doesn’t expect the bill to have House support either. “Importantly, industry representatives, carriers, drivers and law enforcement can now shift their focus on complying with existing laws and on enforcing the mandate.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was disappointed the amendment to delay the mandate wasn’t approved but thanked Babin for the support. “The concerns raised by us, by Congress and industry stakeholders have not changed,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “This includes issues related to enforcement, connectivity, data transfers, cybersecurity vulnerabilities and many other legitimate real world concerns.”
Recently, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which determines out-of-service violations in states including Arkansas, pushed back the implementation of out-of-service violations regarding the ELD mandate. Law enforcement won’t start issuing these violations to truck drivers in the states until April 1.
John Larkin, transportation analyst for Stifel, expects the ELD mandate to have a net effect in reducing capacity and has started to see improvements in contract rates after 14 months of firmed spot rates.
In August, dry-van spot rates rose 11%, from the same month in 2016, according to DAT Solutions. In the week ending Sept. 2, the week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, spot rates rose 6.7% or 12 cents per mile to $1.90 a mile. “In the first full week since Hurricane Harvey, truckers rushed to help with emergency relief, supply chains faced massive disruption and ripple effects led to capacity shortfalls in multiple freight markets throughout the country.”
“Also on the rise are diesel prices, which increased an average of 15 cents per gallon nationally due to closure of many Houston-area refineries.”
Another regulation that is expected to have an impact on capacity is the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, which is set to go into effect in 2020, Larkin said. It might impact capacity more than the ELD mandate.