We are two weeks away from one of the most discussed dates in the transportation industry this year. Carriers were given a grace period between December 18 and April 1 to ensure ELD compliance. The soft launch was intended to facilitate the transition. Despite the push-back from carriers and attempts to overturn the new regulation, FMCSA will begin full enforcement of the ELD compliance on April 1.
In two weeks, those without an ELD will be placed out of service. The first violation will place the driver out of service for 10 hours. They will then be allowed to travel to the nearest stop, but should not be dispatched again without a properly installed ELD. If the truck is dispatched again without an ELD, it will be subject to “further enforcement.” However, FMCSA did not specify what this might entail.
According to FMCSA reports, the ELD compliance has been steadily rising since December. The latest reported data shows that the compliance rate is now at quite an impressive 96% compared to 90% in early March. Currently, there are over 330 self-certified devices on the registration list.
However, the unique needs of the U.S. agricultural carriers called for additional review of the new regulations. The National Pork Producers Council petitioned for the waiver and exemption from the new regulations in September 2017. Although the exemption is still pending, agricultural carriers were provided a 90-day waiver, until March 18.
Last week, the FMCSA announced an additional 90-day waiver for agricultural carriers. The agency is planning to use this time to provide more helpful guidelines on the 150 air-mile radius exemption and personal conveyance.
“The U.S. pork industry is grateful to DOT Secretary [Elaine] Chao and FMCSA Administrator Martinez for this additional waiver from the ELD rule, which poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care," Jim Heimerl, President of the National Pork Producers Council, said. "This will provide the department and Congress additional time to find a solution that meets the unique needs of livestock haulers. Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling regardless of any regulation."
According to the agriculture professionals, livestock is vulnerable and complying with the new ELD and HOS may be harmful to the animals. The additional 90-day period is meant to give more time to work out a solution which will meet the requirements of the agriculture industry while ensuring safety on the roads.