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Mon April 02, 2018 - National Edition
Commercial vehicle drivers that are not using electronic logging devices as of April 1 face the prospect of authorities penalizing them by immediately placing them out of service for 10 hours, assessing points against their driver records and perhaps levying civil fines.
While some drivers of agricultural vehicles are exempt, most types of truckers have been under the ELD rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration since it took hold Dec. 18, though the agency gave drivers a grace period until April before the penalties would kick in.
Once the monthly calendar turns over, however, authorities can start applying the penalties to operators found driving without the electronic log books.
The regulation is intended to increase highway safety by ensuring that commercial drivers adhere to federal hours-of-service rules and take their required rest periods. ELDs, backers say, would replace paper logbooks that drivers fill out themselves and which sometimes do not reflect their true work day.
However, the rule is controversial within the trucking industry, where many trucking fleet companies had already shifted to them and paid for the equipment while drivers who own their own rigs – and who pay any extra costs out of their own pockets – have lobbied against it.
Now that the compliance deadline is imminent, it is not clear how much of the industry is ready for it or how many freight truckers may see their trips interrupted.
Transport Topics, a publication of the American Trucking Associations, reported that "with few exceptions, the rule mandates any driver required to previously keep a paper record of duty status must install an ELD."
It quoted Collin Mooney, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, saying that if an inspector or officer places a driver out of service for 10 hours for violating the ELD mandate, once that period is completed the driver can use paper records of duty to get to the final destination.
"But they can't be re-dispatched until they have an ELD installed," Mooney said.
He added that "some inspectors or officers may just place the driver out of service for 10 hours. Others may place the driver out of service and issue a citation as well. It's really up to the officer within each jurisdiction."
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