As we reach the end of the grace period for ELD compliance, the FMCSA has admitted that there are ongoing problems with the technology that they are requiring motor carriers to have. Most notably, drivers are facing issues with getting devices to track time and data accurately. In the most extreme cases, ELDs are reporting that truckers are hundreds of miles from their actual locations. Because the sole purpose of the device is to accurately track time and location, these malfunctions are worrisome. Malfunctioning ELDs pose a couple of problems:
- If truckers are over their hours because the device is incorrect, they could face fines from the FMCSA
- If they are under their hours, they could face repercussions from their employers
- If the device incorrectly reports that a truck is in a state for which the driver does not have a permit, they could face penalty for that as well
These violations could potentially endanger the livelihoods and licenses of truckers all over the country. While the FMCSA has acknowledged that there are problems with the devices, action has not yet been taken to solve the issue. Most of the people that have complained have been told to switch ELD companies.
Part of the problem is that the federal agency allowed companies to self-certify that their devices worked. This practice is pretty standard for the FMCSA, but this influx of problems is unprecedented. To help offset all the problems, the FMCSA has been issuing waivers to truckers that have experienced issues, but most of them are about to expire and they have yet to issue more.
Outside of the FMCSA, independent companies that produce ELDs have increased the amount of customer service employees to handle the influx of calls they are getting in regard to misfunctioning devices. Should these issues not be resolved soon, owners and operators could face weekly fines up to 15,000 dollars. This could put many of them out of business.
Written By: Shayla Powers
A few weeks ago at the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show, Ray Martinez, the new administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, held his first official “grass roots outreach” event. Martinez had hopes that the event would not be an angry one– but it was; the 90 minute “listening event” was characterized by tension and confrontation. Drivers from across the country accused Martinez, and by extension, the FMCSA, of ignoring the fate of independent owners and small fleet truck drivers under the new ELD rules. The group mainly consisted of individual owner-operators and drivers for small companies, and their concerns ranged from the highly debated ELD mandate, to lack of parking at truck stops. Most of them agreed that the FMCSA has overstepped their authority in regard to work hours and when they should take rest and meal breaks.
The crowd was also displeased with the way that Martinez was answering their questions, saying that he was disconnected from the people he was supposed to be serving, and was answering “like a politician.” Martinez listen to their criticism quietly, and without interruption. He told him that he was used to not being the most-liked person in the room, and told the crowd that he would address the complaints that “made the most sense” and would not negatively impact highway safety, but he made no promises. He pointed out that he does not have the ability to change the laws around the ELD mandate, but that there is some room for negotiation in regard to the rules surrounding mandatory hours. He said that the only way to fix problems and concerns within the industry is to listen and learn. He also stated that he and the FMCSA realize that long wait times at docks are inefficient, and that ELD are supposed to help highlight those inequities. At the end of the session, Martinez admitted that the contention was nothing new, and that these were the types of things that the FMCSA wanted to hear.
For more reporting on the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show, visit www.ttnews.com
Written By: Shayla Powers