Lax ELD hauling laws endanger drivers everywhere

In 2018, the U.S. Senate granted a temporary exemption for livestock haulers from having to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track their hours and location. The use of such devices became required by law in December 2017 to protect drivers everywhere from overworked truckers, but large portions of the agricultural industry are exempt.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration continues to grant exemptions and allow companies to delay implementation of these devices. By failing to enforce this law, drivers everywhere are in danger.

What are ELDs and how do they protect drivers?

ELDs record a truck’s GPS signal and serve to replace pen and paper records, which could be falsified to benefit drivers or their companies. By adjusting an entry manually, drivers can be on duty longer than allowed by law. As a result, they could be overtired and overworked which endangers any driver or pedestrian around them.

ELDs automatically record the driver’s startup, driving time, route, speed, location, and end time. The data is managed by a third party and cannot be altered by the driver or their company. It could also save the industry millions of dollars in printing and paperwork.

Who is exempted from this regulation and why?

The FMCSA grants exemptions to various parties, including the following:

  • Short-haul drivers
  • Drive-away-tow-away operations
  • Drivers of vehicles made before the year 2000
  • Various agricultural commodity haulers

According to an analysis performed and published by private meat industries, livestock haulers are among the safest big-rigs. According to their analysis, livestock haulers account for less than one percent of total crashes in 2013-2015. They point out that drivers cannot take the mandated ten-hour breaks without arranging for the welfare of the animals they carry.

Pork and beef lobbyists delayed the implementation of the ELD law twice, and received several extensions after that. In December 2018, the FMCSA announced that the implementation of ELDs in the trucks of livestock haulers is postponed “until further notice.”

When all drivers are not held to the same standard, lawmakers create a gray area where companies can legally overwork their truck drivers and endanger any other vehicle on the road for the sake of profit. These policies are unfair to employees and drivers everywhere, protecting no one and threatening the importance of existing laws.

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