In 2015, Congress mandated that trucks meet Hours of Service (HOS) record-keeping requirements using electronic devices rather than paper logs. This mandate was due to be implemented as a final rule (Electronic Logging Device “ELD” rule) by December 18, 2017. As the implementation date neared, substantial trucking shortages became evident. Though the impending regulation’s impact on the shortages is unclear, the concern was large enough that the Department of Transportation (DOT) moved to extend the ELD compliance date for those truckers hauling “agricultural commodities” by an additional 180 days via successive waivers.
During the comment period on the proposed rule and in subsequent communications with DOT, industry and state officials have expressed concern over the implementation of this rule. A coalition of State Attorneys General raised issues that DOT had no program in place to verify the suitability of the privately-manufactured ELDs to perform the tasks that the rule requires. Additionally, an association representing smaller trucking operators in the U.S. raised cost concerns about the devices themselves. They indicated their view that the rule was tailored to large trucking companies and would disadvantage their smaller competition. Organizations representing agriculture raised concerns over the unclear definition of “source” of the agricultural commodity and the inability of certain ELDs to recognize the 150-mile ag exemption. Without that ability, the exemption effectively wouldn’t exist for any trucker with a deficient ELD. Due to these concerns, NPC joined with other associations in seeking a delay in final implementation.
In late May 2018, DOT announced that they agreed with NPC and other agricultural organizations concerning packinghouses and cold storage facilities being considered “sources” of agricultural commodities. Coupled with an acknowledgement that unladen trucks are eligible for the 150 air-mile agricultural exemption if they are directly inbound to pick up a qualified load, these changes in guidance lessened the negative impact of the HOS/ELD regulations. On June 18th, the final ELD waiver was extinguished and the rule is now in effect.
In October 2018, NPC provided follow-up recommendations to the Administration that encouraged flexibility in on-the-clock hours when drivers are waiting to unload in congested port terminals, distribution warehouses and other intermodal facilities.
In this short video, Kam Quarles, NPC's Vice President of Public Policy, discusses the changes implemented in 2018 to the ELD rule, and how those changes could affect the potato industry.
Updated July 2018