One size doesn’t fit all

We all know the ELD mandate has been a bad idea from the get-go. Well, those of us who aren’t working for the FMCSA or the ATA know it, anyway. But a growing number of exemption requests would seem to suggest others are catching on as well.

One of the more notable requests came a few weeks ago from none other than mega shipper UPS. UPS, it should be noted, has been very much in favor of the mandate from the beginning and now that we’re just a few months away suddenly wants an exemption. And doncha just want to know why?

Well, it’s partly because they have a whole slew of trucks that are already equipped with Automated On-Board Recorders – not to be confused with Electronic Logging Devices – that would not be compliant under the new mandate. Why they bought these trucks knowing that a mandate they themselves supported would render them obsolete is anybody’s guess and a question for another time.

In their exemption request UPS raised some very good points about how drivers who work for them will be forced to use different vehicles equipped with AOBRs and ELDs and therefore would not have a single, complete log reflecting that driver’s hours of service. They also asked for an exemption for yard moves – wherein a driver is simply moving a truck from one part of a shipping or receiving area to another. Something that no doubt happens hundreds of times each day at every UPS facility in the country.

These are all valid points, but the thing is they don’t just apply to UPS. They are only two of the numerous problems that will hit the entire industry should this mandate be allowed to go into effect in December.

We’ve also seen requests from companies that use vehicles with single-passenger cabs to haul oversized loads, and pipeline haulers – not to mention the concerns we’ve heard voiced numerous times by livestock haulers that could literally put the lives of the animals they’re hauling at risk.

The point of all of this is that the trucking industry comes in so many shapes and sizes and loads and specialties that there is no way a blanket, one-size-fits all regulation like the ELD mandate is possibly going to work for everyone involved.

Sure, it works for the big carriers who already have the things installed. But let’s not forget that as big as they are they do not make up the majority of the industry. There are as many different types of trucking operations as there are loads to haul. What works for one isn’t going to work for the next one down the road.

So maybe instead of granting all of these exemptions, the FMCSA should at the very least delay the implementation of the mandate until these problems can be sorted out (yeah, I know ideally it should be gone altogether but unfortunately that’s not really up to the FMCSA – it being a congressional mandate and all). The alternative is a nation full of trucking operations struggling to comply with a regulation that doesn’t really fit their business. It will be hard for some, while others likely won’t make it at all.

In other words, it’ll be a mess. But it’s a mess that can be avoided if only the FMCSA will put down its shovel and pick up a broom. Stop piling on the dirt and help clean it up for a change.


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