Will the incoming Trump administration delay the still-contentious electronic logging device (ELD) mandate? That question popped up more than few times here at the TU-Automotive Connected Fleets USA being held this week in Atlanta during conversations among the participants and during panel discussions – including one moderated by yours truly.
The short answer to that question in the minds of most experts is “No.” Indeed, Fred Fakkema, vice president of compliance for Zonar Systems, noted that many of leading industry trade groups – notably the American Trucking Associations (ATA) – remains very much in favor of the ELD mandate.
As a result, political pressure won’t be unanimous from the industry to delay or repeal it – though don’t tell that to groups such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) that continue to fight the mandate despite losing a recent court battle over the measure.
“We think the Trump administration is going to have a lot more things to worry about in its first 100 days than worry about ELDs,” added Chris Koszarsky, director of engineering for Garmin.
However, the “longer answer” to that question is whether a delay will be needed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) so it can properly prepare itself and various safety enforcement entities to handle the flow of ELD data; including during roadside inspections.
“Think about the roll out of Obamacare; that didn’t go very well,” Fakkema added.
In particular, he pointed out that the “transfer mechanism” for ELD data, via Bluetooth or USB device, still hasn’t been completely finalized according to the 120 pages of guidelines for that process issued by the agency.
“FMCSA still hasn’t completed the development of the web services needed for ELD data,” Fakkema pointed out.
The lack of “E-logs” data transfer protocols for roadside inspections is also holding up the self-certification process for many ELD vendors, he said.
“One reason there are only 10 self-certified companies on the FMCSA’s list – and why none of the ‘big names’ are on it yet – is that there are gaps in the 400-plus page requirement for testing them, especially in terms of how data is to be transferred at the roadside,” he said. “So we still have a lot of things going on [with the ELD rule] that need to be worked out.”
Thus in many respects it remains a waiting and watching game to determine whether the technical details buried within the ELD rule create the need for a delay or not.