OOIDA's Spencer blasts ATA, asks FMCSA to work with Congress on ELD delay

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line Digital Content Editor | 7/28/2017

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is asking the nation’s top commercial vehicle enforcement agency to work with Congress on delaying a proposal that would mandate electronic logging devices in commercial trucks.

In a July 27 letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer asked the agency’s deputy administrator, Daphne Jefferson, to work with legislators to address “serious concerns” the mandate has raised among truckers and other industry stakeholders. One piece of legislation already on the table is H.R. 3282. Sponsored by Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, the bill would delay implementation of the ELD mandate until December 2019.

“These legislative developments would provide your agency the additional time needed to avoid a failed rollout,” Spencer stated.

Spencer also blasted a July 21 letter sent to the agency by the American Trucking Associations, which called for FMCSA to oppose any effort to delay the ELD mandate.

“Despite being the self-proclaimed ‘most authoritative voice in the trucking industry’, ATA by no means represents the hundreds-of-thousands of crucial owner-operators and independent drivers working within our industry,” Spencer wrote. “Whether through arrogance or ignorance, the letter also illustrates ATA’s lack of basic understanding of why small-business truckers - and those echoing our calls for a delay - have such strong concerns with the ELD mandate.”

Spencer’s letter also chastised ATA for claiming that those who were seeking to delay or repeal the ELD mandate were doing so with the intention of cheating on their hours of service. Spencer called those accusations “unfortunate” as well as “wildly inappropriate and dishonest.”

He also pointed out that several of ATA’s state chapters have echoed OOIDA’s concerns about the potential negative effects associated with a Dec. 18 rollout of the mandate. UPS, one of ATA’s largest members, is seeking a regulatory exemption from requirements included in the final ELD rule.

“Based on ATA’s erratic rhetoric, some may interpret UPS’s efforts as a sign the company intends to willfully violate hours of service standards,” Spencer said. “However, we believe UPS’s exemption request is yet another indication the mandate and its implementation are riddled with critical deficiencies – unforeseen by even the rulemaking’s most ardent supporters.”

Several other industry groups have requested exemptions to the mandate, and a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill making its way through Congress already includes language that would exempt livestock and insect haulers from using electronic logging devices.

“ATA disingenuously promotes ELDs as safety devices, despite the fact several large carriers who have been using the technology for years continue exhibiting some of the worst safety records in the industry,” Spencer’s letter states. “This head-in-the-sand posture has made it abundantly clear their support for the mandate and opposition to a delay is based not on a concern for public safety, but a concern for public relations.”

Spencer said ATA and other groups supporting the rulemaking have “consistently ignored or discounted” numerous technical concerns raised by OOIDA and other opponents of the mandate. But OOIDA isn’t the only group raising some of those concerns. A recent audit by the Government Accountability Office raised red flags that FMCSA’s own information technology system is ‘inadequate.’

“If FMCSA has been unable to ensure its current systems are working effectively, how will the agency be capable of properly handling a newly implemented regulation that requires the transfer of massive amounts of data in less than six months?” Spencer wrote.

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