We all know it and hear it. Quite often, the trucking industry is described as a rolling inventory of sorts, catering to retailers and end users as a medium that aids in their just-in-time business model. Practicing what we preach, our industry enjoys the ability to be the most flexible and adaptable form of freight transportation across the country today. We pride ourselves on our on-time delivery rates and value our ability to change on the fly when needed. All that said, the one issue that continues to necessitate phone call after phone call from TCA members is the expected delivery date on a final rule pertaining to electronic logging devices, or ELDs.
When is the rule coming? Where is it now? The industry waits with bated breath for a rule that would support an already large carrier investment for the many fleets that have already adopted this technology. The hope is it will add language and specifications to an industry that seems to be running rampant with imposter “compliant” technology. The industry is riddled with ads for FMCSA-compliant technology, but how can a unit be FMCSA-compliant when the rule has yet to materialize? Well, it cannot be compliant because there are no specs to be compliant with.
As if the specification issue wasn’t enough, an already unlevel playing field seems to be tilting even more almost daily. Many carriers have fully invested in ELD technology or are somewhere in the process of doing so in an effort to plan ahead, to become more compliant prior to an implementation date or to even go “beyond compliance” as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration likes to state. In other words, these carriers are putting their best foot forward as they recognize an easier way to be compliant with hours-of-service regulations. In many cases, making matters worse is that the neighbor down the street is attracting drivers because it has not yet instituted an ELD policy and is waiting until the last minute to actually do so. Where is the level playing field of compliance? Where do our responsible carriers seek solace in the knowledge that they are doing the right thing? The answer is quite simple really; it’s with their association peers who are doing the same things and adopting the same technology that they are.
While time appears to be the enemy in this case, the members of TCA and its trucking industry brethren continue to do the right thing by not only maintaining an exemplary safety record but continually striving to improve upon it. On the heels of an incendiary op-ed piece published in The New York Times, our industry clamors for a rule that makes sense so that we as an industry not only portray an image of being safe and compliant but actually become safer and compliant. In other words, we aren’t just talking the talk; we are walking the walk as well.
Rest assured, the time for ELDs will come and eventually will go because soon enough our industry will operate in its forward-thinking mode and move on to the next technology that will aid in assisting what every carrier strives to do daily and that is to deliver freight and do it safely.
David Heller, CDS, is director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn. He is responsible for interpreting and communicating industry-related regulations and legislation to the membership of TCA. Send comments to [email protected].