Commenters have come down on both sides of the issue, with some saying the mandate is a needed safety mechanism and others dismissing the rule as unnecessarily burdensome and an intrusion of privacy.
One anonymous commenter said the devices will force all parties to act responsibly, rather than motivated solely by productivity and “greed,” the commenter wrote. ELD’s could also spur reform for driver pay and detention time problems and weed out those cheating with paper logs:
I see what drivers are put through by dispatchers and business owners all in the name of making money. You want to see the REAL problem? Follow the money! ELDs are just a first step in driver compensation reform. There needs to be a combination of mileage pay and hourly pay for wait time. Businesses need to be help accountable for even asking a driver to violate HOS in order to “get the job done.” If we would all police ourselves, then ELDs won’t make any difference. If we are trying to find a way to cheat, then ELD’s will force those who cheat to think of another way or simply play the game by the rules.
Commenter Alan Moore of Blackfoot, Ind., said he thinks the agency “may have the rule right this time,” referring to FMCSA’s previous attempts that were vacated in court, most recently in 2011, when a federal court threw out the electronic onboard recorder mandate due to concerns over the devices’ ability to be used to harass drivers.
“[The rule] took long enough,” he wrote. “I like the rule. We need something done about the cowboys that are left to run however they please.”
Likewise, commenter Brock Girling simply wrote: It’s about time the electronic log became mandatory.
Other commenters, especially those who say they’re small carriers or owner-operators, said the cost of complying with the rule could force them out of business.
Warren Smith, Gatesville, Texas:
Thanks for putting small trucking companies out of business. I am struggling to make payments on trucks and trailers now without the additional expenses of the federal government. I am a two truck operation, and I work hard at keeping up with all of the compliance regs now. I feel you are going to be hurting this country more than helping it, because having to pass on the cost of this — everyone will suffer.
Martin Sulak of Waco, Texas, expressed the same sentiment:
I guess what the FMCSA wants is to run the independent drivers/owners out of business! You have so many regs now it’s funny! What we need is a house cleaning in Washington with some people that have some common sense! In the cattle/livestock industry, wait until the consumer asks why they are paying so much more for their beef! When the big truck carriers take over this industry, watch what happens to the prices!
Commenter Sean Adams of St. Joseph, Minn., equates ELDs to a punishment, suggesting mandatory use of the devices be targeted at companies with poor CSA scores. He also said ELD use should be up to carriers, rather than an industry-wide requirement:
Drivers don’t like to be watched, just like anyone would not like their boss or supervisor watching and questioning their EVERY move. There are millions of safe drivers out there that are very responsible, and this is an action for the small minority of the bad drivers. If you want to mandate it have it listed that companies with bad [CSA] scores have to have them. Not the companies that are following the rules like they are supposed to. Don’t put the whole class in detention because of one bad grade.
Other commenters, like Terry Snow of South Carolina, points to ELDs as an example of what he calls an overall “overreach” of the federal government, rather than the specific problems with the devices:
This new rule would be a travesty of an invasion into the workplace of over the road drivers. The FMCSA is too big and too over reaching. It does not function with business. It functions mostly against business. This rule will not guarantee any more safe driving conditions vs the current “rule.” This new rule would cost trucking companies millions. This rule is blinded by the fallacious pursuit of safety. The cost of the product being transported will go up and the cost will be passed onto consumers. We are regulating our country into an ineffective and unprofitable state. This ruling is not necessary and is in all probability unconstitutional.
Driver and commenter Mark Olsen of Clinton, Utah, said he has used both electronic logs and paper logs, and says electrnoic logs probably are the better option, but the hours of service rule change implemented last year is the real problem:
As it is now with hours of service — they are not safe at all. This is from real world experience. Drivers now are speeding through work zones and truck stops and speeding where possible due to lack of flexibility. They’re running tired because we can’t stop at all to rest. You want safety on highways? Remove the 14-hour rule and you will see a better change in driver compliance.
Comments on the mandate can be made online at regulations.gov using the Docket Number FMCSA-2010-0167 or by email at email@example.com, using the subject line Attention: Desk Officer for FMCSA, DOT. They can also be faxed to 202-395-6566.