For America’s trucking industry, 2017 has been quite a decisive year. Donald Trump became the President in January and at the end of the year, the ELD mandate became mandatory for most commercial drivers.
Other than these two major events, there were plenty others, including court cases, protests, and regulation changes.
In this blog post, we briefly recap the major events that happened during 2017 and directly or indirectly affected the trucking industry.
1. January started with a freeze on new regulations by President Donald Trump. The freeze apparently didn’t have a huge impact, but it still delayed the implementation of the driver training rule until later in the year.
2. Following the freeze, Trump directed federal agencies to abrogate two existing regulations for every new one implemented. Trump believed that this would reduce the regulatory burdens on small businesses.
3. The FMCSA clarified its position on the grandfather clause and non-compliant devices. According to the ELD mandate, the grandfather clause allows vehicles using AOBRDs to continue doing so until December 16, 2019. The same devices can also be installed in new vehicles if a truck replaces another. However, new AOBRD devices could not be bought after December 18, 2017.
The agency explained: “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.”
4. The month of March rolled in with the FMCSA withdrawing the 34-hour restart regulations. The agency concluded after evaluating a DoT study that the 2013 HOS changes did not show any additional benefits and, therefore, withdrew the restart requirements.
5. Another step by the FMCSA was the withdrawal of the Safety Fitness Determination rule. It was done because the agency and the trucking industry had developed concerns over its effectiveness.
6. After losing in the Seventh Circuit Courts of Appeals, OOIDA decided to file a petition with the Supreme Court to hear their case against the FMCSA’s ELD mandate.
7. In June, the Supreme Court denied OOIDA’s appeal to rehear the case, effectively ending their legal battle against the ELD rule.
8. In July, Texas Rep. Brian Babin introduced an ELD Extension Act 2017 in the House. He demanded the ELD rule be delayed for a period of two years. However, the move never got materialized.
9. As a result of the two-for-one regulation program implemented back in February, the sleep apnea rulemaking and speed limiter mandate came to an end in July 2017. Both these rules saw fierce opposition from owner-operators.
10. In the same month, the agency announced an ELD Implementation National Tour. It was a 5-month-6-stop campaign that aimed to educate masses on the use, implementation, and benefits of electronic logging devices.
11. To ensure a smoother transition to the ELD mandate, the FMCSA approved two ELD mandate exemptions in October 2017. The first allowed drivers using phone-based ELDs to change their duty statuses even when they’re away from their vehicles. The second exemption allowed drivers multiple yard moves without needing to input the “yard move” status again.
12. With just about a month left for the ELD mandate compliance deadline, The FMCSA announced that ELD violations wouldn’t affect CSA scores until April 1, 2018. This announcement came right after the CVSA’s decision to delay the out-of-service criteria enforcement. That delay gave motor carriers a bit more time to prepare for the ELD mandate without risking an out-of-service penalty.
13. December also brought some fresh ELD mandate exemptions just before the compliance deadline. The FMCSA granted two 90-day ELD exemptions to rental vehicles and ag haulers.
Earlier, TRALA and a livestock hauler coalition had requested the FMCSA to consider the complexities involved in their respective operations and, based on that, grant an ELD waiver. TRALA demanded a 5-year ELD exemption for vehicles rented for 30 days or less, while the other party just needed some more time.
In a separate response to both the applications, the FMCSA granted a 90-day ELD waiver to rental vehicles and those carrying livestock and agriculture commodities. Both these trucking groups have until mid-March to become compliant with the final ELD mandate.
14. After a lot of struggle, protests, and a winding legal battle, the ELD mandate was finally implemented across the country on December 18, 2017. A good number of large and small fleets became compliant and benefited by using electronic logging devices.
15. Soon after the ELD mandate implementation, the FMCSA proposed some changes in the personal conveyance guidelines. The new guidelines would make it easier for drivers to use their commercial vehicles for personal purposes.
After so many events in 2017, we are hoping for an even better 2018 with electronic logging devices making new records of safety, convenience, and efficiency. We can safely expect ELDs to minimize road accidents, driver coercion, and hours-of-service violations.