In 2017, USA Today reported on labor violations in the trucking industry resulting in drivers being overworked, underpaid, and treated like “servants.” Rogue trucking companies violate safety regulations and force drivers to work day and night, causing dangerous driving conditions.
Nevertheless, truckers turned out in force to protest a contentious new safety regulation set to take effect on December 18, 2017: a federal mandate requiring commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices, or ELDs, which will monitor the time drivers spend on the road to help ensure that they don’t go over the maximum number of hours they’re allowed to drive, according to NPR.
Safety advocates said that the mandate would help prevent the fatigue that is a common cause of truck-related crashes. The electronic hardware will ensure drivers are complying with hours-of-service rules. But many in the trucking industry fear the new requirements will be costly and drive away truck drivers.
The administration responded to truckers’ protests by easing the implementation of the regulation and offering a nearly four-month window for truckers to start complying with the rule, The Hill reported. “From Dec. 18 to April 1, any truck drivers who are caught without an electronic logging device will be cited and allowed to continue driving, as long as they are in compliance with hours-of-service rules. Any violations incurred during that time period will not count toward a company’s safety record, officials said. Normal enforcement of the regulation will resume after April 1.” The agricultural industry will receive a 90-day waiver from the requirements.
According to the Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of large trucks and buses in fatal crashes has increased by 26 percent from a low of 3,432 in 2009. Still, the 2015 numbers are 18 percent lower than their peak in 2005. The Huffington Post has blamed Congress for allowing lobbyists for the trucking industry to try to nullify regulations that improve safety for drivers and other vehicles sharing the road. In today’s climate of enthusiasm for deregulation, the lobbyists may well have Congress’ ear.
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