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Sept.18, 2017

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GOVERNMENT WATCH INTERNATIONAL | WASHINGTON | CUSTOMS | SECURITY | REGULATION 24 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE SEPTEMBER 18.2017 By William B. Cassidy US SHIPPERS RECEIVED a reprieve from a potential logistics nightmare this Decem- ber when an association representing state law enforcement agencies said its members would postpone until April 1, 2018, putting truckers out-of-service for not having an electronic logging device. The April 1 "effective date" for ELD out- of-service enforcement will give truckers, third-party logistics companies, and ship- pers time to adjust to the rule with "minimal disruption to the delivery of goods," the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said in a statement on Aug. 28. That relieves some concerns, though not all, about tightening truck capacity and ris- ing transportation costs. Spot truck rates are up by double digits from a year ago, and are expected to rise further as goods begin to move toward retail stores for fall sales. Hur- ricane Harvey also drove up rates. The CVSA action moderates fear of a "capacity crunch," giving those truckers who can't get the devices into their cabs before the holidays extra time during the first quarter, one of the slowest seasons for trucking. But getting caught without an ELD after Dec. 18 still could prove costly. Starting Dec. 18, "roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting viola- tions on roadside inspection reports and, at the jurisdiction's discretion, will issue citations," the CVSA said in its statement. "Beginning April 1, 2018, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with the required device." The ELD rule covers more than 3 mil- lion commercial truck drivers who must shift from using paper logs to recording the hours they work electronically, a step man- dated by Congress in 2012 and spelled out in a final rule released by the Department of Transportation in 2015. The goal is to improve highway safety by bolstering truck driver hours-of-service enforcement. In 2016, false log violations rose 9.6 percent year over year, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administra- tion data. Electronic logging aims to blunt that increase. Trucking companies have been racing to install ELDs by the Decem- ber deadline. The CVSA's decision alleviates fears that thousands of truckers could be placed out of service a week before Christmas. The Aug. 28 announcement clarifies how events are likely to unfold as the mandate takes effect on Dec. 18, and gives motor carriers more breathing room. Phased-in enforcement of the mandate also may blunt attempts to delay imple- mentation of the rule on Capitol Hill. A bill introduced by Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, in July would delay the ELD rule by two years, and the House Transportation Committee attached a rider to an appropriations bill that could lead to a delay by requiring further FMCSA study. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which unsuccessfully challenged the ELD mandate in federal court, is pushing for action in Congress. On Aug. 29, the association filed a petition with the FMCSA, arguing that states that haven't incorporated federal safety regu- lations into state law can't legally enforce those regulations. OOIDA said the CVSA decision to post- pone "full enforcement" points to "lack of preparedness" at the state level. "Too many states are not ready to roll out the mandate, and can't possibly be ready by the Dec. 18 deadline," Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said in a statement. Collin B. Mooney, the CVSA's executive director, expressed "strong opposition" to any delay in the mandate. "Despite what opponents of the mandate may argue, the enforcement community is ready to begin enforcement of the requirement on Dec. 18," Mooney said in a letter to FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson. "The December deadline for this important safety regulation was established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administra- tion in 2015 following a decade of regulatory inquiry, study, litigation, and, ultimately, a congressional mandate." Many smaller trucking companies, how- ever, are far from ready to switch from paper logbooks to ELDs. Companies that haven't placed orders for ELDs may face short- ages of the devices as the Dec. 18 deadline approaches. "The vendors don't have barges sitting off the coast loaded with thousands of these devices," John Seidl, a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions and former roadside inspector, said during an Aug. 3 JOC webcast. Logistics executives, including C.H. Robinson Worldwide CEO John Wiehoff, have expressed concern that implemen - tation of the ELD mandate in December could get "very messy." The CVSA decision to phase in enforcement should alleviate the threat of an immediate pre-Christmas capacity snap, and make a more gradual tightening of capacity over the next year more likely. "CVSA member jurisdictions have used this phased-in approach in the past when implementing a significant change in regu- latory requirements," Mooney said in his letter. He said the CVSA board and FMCSA agreed the two-phase enforcement strategy would be the best approach and would "pro- mote a smoother transition to the new ELD requirement." Truckers, fleet operators, brokers, and shippers, however, shouldn't delay compli- ance plans. Those that don't take advantage of the wiggle room the phased-in approach affords may find themselves in a tight spot on April 1. JOC Contact William B. Cassidy at and follow him on Twitter: @wbcassidy _joc. BREATHING ROOM State enforcement agencies give three-month reprieve to truckers for installation of ELDs

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