Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Electronic Logging Mandate On The Way!

e-logsThe other day, I was talking to my friend the airline pilot.  I asked him what was involved in tracking his in-flight hours so that he doesn’t exceed his allotted time.  He said, “Oh, that’s easy.  All I have to do is shut the cockpit door.”  I questioned him a little further and found it wasn’t quit as simple as all that.  But he said that once he identifies himself to the on-board computer, and shuts the cockpit door, the log turns on and his flying hours are automatically being tracked on the plane.  There is constant communications from the plane to the airline and his “logging” requirements were almost automatically satisfied. 

When you look at MAP-21, its electronic logging mandate and the proposed regulations, it is clear that the FMCSA envisions a system that would operate much like my airline friend’s.  I imagine that the FMCSA would like to make truck logging just that simple.  And by golly, that is just what they are bound and determined to do.  But FMCSA has to recognize that pilots don’t pump their own gas and they surely don’t get stuck on the side of the road because of a breakdown.  In other words, whether FMCSA will succeed is an entirely different matter.

This dream of universal electronic logging has long been on FMCSA’s mind.  FMCSA started allowing electronic logging as early as 1985.  In 2011, the courts struck down regulations that some drivers were convinced could be used by the carriers to force them to drive when they were sick or fatigued.  The court threw out that 2011 attempt to force electronic logging.

With MAP-21, FMSCA went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan.  The “public comment” period regarding the new proposed regulations just closed on June 26, 2014.

According to many, the proposed regulations still offer an inadequate amount of room for flexibility.  “But I have an old rig.”  “Too bad.” says FMCSA!  Under the proposed regs, you still have to meet the Electronic Logging requirements.  “But I’m just a little guy with two trucks!”  Again, “Too bad!! says FMCSA.  You still have to meet the deadlines.  Is driver coercion possible under these newly proposed regs?   Will these regs pass muster?  The answer is still unknown.

But it is clear that FMCSA is not going to give up on this.  Under the proposed regs, if you don’t have a current on-board recording system, you will have to be compliant within two years of the date that the regs are finalized.  If you do have an old system, that old device will have to be updated to be compliant within four years of the date the reg comes into effect.  Plus, who knows?  The state may also get involved and compel their own intrastate carriers to have these devices too.

Whether you think the plan is good or bad, from our perspective, this dream of FMCSA is not going away.  Will it cost some money?  Sure.  But what is better?  To act now and get time training on the system before the mandate kicks in?  Or will you try to scramble at the last minute to try to get compliant?  I’d pick the latter.

Whether you are for or against electronic logging, if you have questions about trucking law, be sure to call me, Mike Mills, at 702-240-6060×114 and let me see if I can help you.  You can also reach me by email at mike@mcmillslaw.com.  And don’t forget to subscribe to www.NevadaTruckingLaw.com.

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