Will Trump Do Away With the ELD Mandate?

President-Elect Donald Trump. whose unexpected victory in the election stunned the world, ran on a platform of promises to upend the status quo in all areas of government.  His campaign routinely railed against what he characterized as oppressive governmental regulations.  In fact, the very first bullet point listed under the heading “Donald J Trump’s Vision” on the “Regulations” page of the Trump/Pence website reads, “Ask all Department heads to submit a list of every wasteful and unnecessary regulation which kills jobs, and which does not improve public safety, and eliminate them.”  Most independent trucking company owner/operators hope that the reviled ELD mandate will be the first government regulation Trump eliminates.  How likely is this to happen?

This is a question receiving a great deal of scrutiny amongst transportation industry insiders and the media serving the industry.  Most informed industry watchers seem to agree that it is highly unlikely the ELD mandate – the clause in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration law that requires all semi-tractors to install electronic logging devices or face penalties – will be rolled back.

In a December 5th article at Trucks.com, it is noted that “the ELD rule was challenged in court and upheld, [according to] Avery Vise, president of TransComply, a trucking industry regulatory compliance consulting firm, {who] said he doesn’t see Trump reversing the regulation because the administration would have to undo the ‘formal rulemaking process.’ The push for ELD use dates back to President George W. Bush’s administration.”

The popular Overdrive website, a favorite of truckers and trucking operators revealed the results of a poll of truckers and small trucking company operators regarding the ELD mandate in a December 7 piece.  They wrote, “Opposition or antipathy to ELDs is so strong among Overdrive‘s audience that 7 in 10 readers report eye-ing the mandate’s pre-2000 model year exemption for their operation.”  Smaller operators are far more troubled about the mandate and the significant expense involved in complying with the mandate than their larger, more financially secure counterparts.  The OverdriveOnline article quotes one such small operator who feels like the law is biased against the smaller players.  He says, “If an independent like me is fine with my paper logs, why force me to [use an ELD]? I may get my log checked by an officer maybe once or twice a year. In over 30 years I’ve never had a ticket or warning on any logging issue. So what’s really the issue? If I’m off my log and get checked out I am subject to the consequences, paper or electronic.”  Many like him believe the law gives an unfair advantage to the larger carriers.

The Commerce Carrier Journal offers prescient predictions for the law to be retained pointing out that, “The ELD mandate in particular, which took effect last December and gave carriers two years to comply, was mandated by Congress in 2012 with a strong Republican majority in the House. Lane Kidd, head of the carrier coalition the Trucking Alliance, says he doubts Congress will walk back regulations it initiated. ‘To roll back Congressional actions — that would be far fetched.’”

President Elect Trump promised on the campaign trail to “drain the swamp” of DC politics and bounce the entrenched private interests from the seats of power.  The populist message clearly resonated with small business owners like the trucking operator quoted in the Overdrive article.   Sadly, if his early cabinet appointments are any indication – replete with establishment figures and DC insiders – it doesn’t seem likely that the little guy will be afforded any relief.  At least not by way of repeal of the ELD mandate.

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