E-log enforcement: Will it be ‘one strike, you’re out’? That and more from FTR conference

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Updated Sep 20, 2015

rand mcnally eobr e-log eldOne aspect of the coming electronic logging mandate that still needs to be fleshed out: Just how will the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforce the rule? And what will the penalty be for not complying?

Those questions are still mysteries, said former FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg this week at FTR’s Transportation Conference in Indianapolis.

Sandberg, who ran the agency in the early part of last decade, said she could see FMCSA enforcing it as “one strike and you’re out” policy.

“It’s a mandatory regulation,” she said, meaning enforcers likely will drop a carriers’ safety rating to Unsatisfactory, giving them 60 days to comply with the rule or be shut down. “A two-truck carrier might be able to do that,” she said. “But a fleet with 2,000? Not a chance. Some carriers will just throw up their hands and sell to somebody already on it. I suspect that’s what’s going to happen.”

FMCSA projected this week the rule could be published at the end of next month. It could include answers to some of the enforcement questions in it.

Reevaluating impact of ELDs: A 10 percent washout?

As I wrote last week, the ELD mandate is expected to take a bite out of the number of trucks and drivers once enforcement is in effect. It perhaps could be more than the oft-predicted 3 to 5 percent, however, says Werner President and COO Derek Leathers.

The 3 to 5 percent measure is based on the loss seen by fleets who have already adopted ELDs, he said. The real number could be somewhere between 6 and 10 percent, he said.

“The early adopters will be OK,” he said. “Those in the second year (leading up to the mandate’s enforcement date) are fighting adaptation for a specific business reason — they can’t do it. I’m not saying they’re purposefully violating [hours rules], but they just can’t slow their trucks down to [comply with an ELD mandate],” he said.

Trucking a leader in economy’s recovery

Truck freight growth in the recovery period since the ‘08-’09 recession has been “spectacular,” said FTR analyst Noel Perry. It has outpaced growth of the U.S. economy by two to one — the opposite of the economic recoveries from the ‘91 and ‘01 recessions.

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But the recovery cycle could soon play out, Perry said, which could slow freight growth in the coming years. “[The recovery] has been spectacular for freight so far,” Perry said. “But FTR is beginning to push its freight forecast down.”

See all of my coverage from FTR’s conference on Overdrive sister site CCJ.