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North Dakota bill could lead to a study about truckers quitting over ELD mandate

The ELD mandate has generated a lot of discussion and protest in the trucking world, to say the least. The mandate, which went into effect in December of 2017, required truckers to have an ELD, or electronic logging device, in their vehicles to track their hours of duty.

Electronic Logging Devices were meant to promote a safer workplace for truckers and they were supposed to help trucking businesses improve safety. The goal was to make tracking, managing, and sharing Records of Duty Status (RODS) data easier and more efficient. An Electronic Logging Device syncs up to the engine to automatically track drive time.

Why the controversy over the ELD Mandate?

However, many truckers have protested the mandate because they feel that the new rules for hours of service do not make sense for their industry. They don’t feel that the lawmakers who passed it understand the fact that trucking schedules don’t always go to plan. Weather, delays, traffic, and parking situations can throw off even the most carefully planned route, something that they truckers don’t think the ELD mandate accounts for. Many feel that the new rules take away the trucker’s ability to make a reasoned decision based on the circumstances in which they find themselves. Even before the ELD mandate went into effect, truckers were threatening to quit over it.

But what kind of effect has the ELD mandate really had on the trucking workforce? Are truckers actually leaving the industry because of it? That’s what a bill proposed in North Dakota aims to find out.

North Dakota: HR 6169

North Dakota’s Representative Kevin Cramer introduced H.R. 6169 on June 20th to prompt the Department of Transportation to study the effect of the ELD mandate on the trucking workforce. The bill, if passed into law, will require the U.S. DOT to conduct research about truck drivers leaving their jobs over ELD regulations. The goal is to find out just how many truckers have stopped operating CMVs because of the new mandate.

The bill would provide the Secretary of Transportation six months (180 days) to complete the study and present the findings to several House committees (including the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Education and the Workforce Committee, and the Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives Committee.) The findings will also have to be presented to several committees of the Senate.

In a Facebook post concerning HR 6159, Rep. Cramer wrote, “I introduced H.R. 6159 to require the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a study about how many of our great truckers have quit their jobs due to the #ELD requirements. The hard working men and women who drive trucks are the lifeblood of our economy. Let’s support our truckers, not burden them.”

It’s not just North Dakota.

Along with North Dakota, several other states have attempted to protest the ELD mandate with legislation. Tennessee, Missouri, Wyoming, Idaho, Alabama, and South Dakota have worked on legislation concerning ELDs. For example, a Representative from Alabama, Johnny Mack Marrow, has asked the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to review the ELD and Hours of Service Regulations in order to allow for more flexibility in the regulations, especially for truckers who haul agricultural products. Tennessee’s Rep. Dale Carr has put forward a proposed law to prevent the use of state funds for ELD enforcement. Sen. Mike Harris from Idaho has requested that the FMCSA extend the 90-day exemption for livestock haulers permanently.

The truck driver shortage.

There has been a shortage of truck drivers in the United States recently, a shortage that’s being felt across the trucking industry and the retail industry. If the DOT does the study as proposed by HR 6169, it will be interesting to see if the ELD mandate has been contributing to the problem. At any rate, it’s worth keeping an eye on the North Dakota bill and the results of the study, if one is conducted.

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