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New Federal Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule May Affect Some MNLA Members and Suppliers

Thursday, March 15, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: James Calkins, MNLA Regulatory Affairs Manager
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The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA; https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/) has amended the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations related to the documentation of Hours of Service (HOS) by truck drivers that operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and green industry professionals and their industry partners should be aware of these changes.  According to the justification language in support of the new regulations, the new rule requirements are intended to reduce driver fatigue and accidents, reduce paperwork and improve record-keeping, and improve compliance with HOS regulations.  Development of the new rules by the FMCSA was mandated by the United States Congress as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) bill passed by Congress in 2012.

 

Referred to as the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule, the new rules are part of the broader Hours of Service (HOS) regulations (49 CFR 395 – Hours of Service of Drivers) that govern the on duty, driving time, and break requirements for divers of CMVs including truck drivers.  The new regulations eliminate the use of the paper logs that have historically been used to document a truck driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS; 49 CFR 395.8 – Driver’s Record of Duty Status; see resources) and requires the use of ELDs to automatically record the travel history of commercial vehicles.  New supporting document requirements are also included in the new ELD Rule (49 CFR 395.11 – Supporting Documents).  Links to additional information about the new ELD Rule and its requirements are included in the resources section below.

 

Although the HOS regulations outside the new ELD requirements remain essentially the same, the cost of the mandated ELDs, confusion about the definition of “agricultural commodities” as related to agricultural exceptions to the rule, and concerns about timely deliveries and increased shipping costs, have sparked controversy and discussions about the rule and its consequences continue.  Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) members and other green industry professionals may be affected by these new regulations and should familiarize themselves with the requirements of the new ELD regulations to determine if and how they might be affected and to insure they are in compliance.  Understanding how to use ELD technology will, of course, also be important.  It is up to each owner operator or fleet manager to ensure that the HOS documentation system they use is in compliance with the most current regulations.

 

The ELD Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2015, and the rule went into effect on December 18, 2017 (phase-in compliance date); although there is confusion related to the definition of “agricultural commodities,” an agricultural commodities waiver is in place until March 19, 2018, and horticultural commodities (i.e., plants) appear to be included in the waiver.  Whether or not horticultural products, and especially flowers and landscape plants (including sod), are considered “agricultural commodities” is uncertain, but important, relative to the agricultural exemptions included in the rule.  In general, when transporting agricultural commodities during the planting and harvest season (March 15 through December 15 in Minnesota), drivers are exempt from the HOS rules (including the maximum work and driving hours allowed within a 24-hour period; 14 and 11 hours, respectively) and the requirement to use an ELD for trips within a 150 air-mile (172 road/land miles; one air mile equals about 1.15 land/road miles) radius of the location where the trip begins.  Once the 150 air mile radius is exceeded, however, the HOS rules apply and the driver must activate the ELD.  Finally, drivers are not required to use an ELD if the vehicle was manufactured before the 2000 model year, so long as they keep paper logs, or if they do not operate outside the 150 air mile radius for more than eight days during a rolling 30-day period so long as paper logs are kept on the days when they are not exempt from the HOS rules.

 

AmericanHort (http://www.americanhort.org), the primary national association for the green industry, has also been following the ELD Rule and its potential effects on the green industry and reports that April 1, 2018, will be the hard deadline for enforcement of the new regulations according to the FMCSA (trucks pulled off the road, fines, etc. for non-compliance) (Talmage/Tal Coley, Director of Government Affairs, AmericanHort; personal communication).  Although the new regulations are already in effect, AmericanHort and others remain engaged and discussions with the FMCSA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and members of Congress continue; the definition of “agricultural commodities” is a part of these discussions.

 

Although ELDs are the new requirement, it should be noted that Records of Duty Status (RODS) generated and maintained by Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs; older ELD technology) that meet the specifications of the HOS regulations (49 CFR 395.15 – Automatic On-Board Recording Devices) and were installed before the effective date of the new ELD Rule (December 18, 2017) may continue to be used by drivers to document their HOS until December 16, 2019 (full compliance date).  After this date, the use of these devices will no longer be allowed and all drivers will be required to use ELDs.  Only ELDs that are certified and registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and included on the FMCSA's Registered ELDs List, available through the FMCSA website (see resources below), may be used.

 

The intent of this regulatory update is to advise MNLA members of these rule changes and not to address all of the particulars of the HOS rules and the new ELD requirements as they are extensive and may vary based on the specific situation.  In general, if you or your firm’s drivers are currently required to keep Records of Duty Status (RODS) and vehicles that weight more than 10,000 pounds (5 tones; including trailers) are involved, these new regulations may apply and further investigation is advised to insure you are in compliance.  After reviewing the new rule requirements, questions may be directed to Charles (Chuck) St. Martin (Federal Program Manager, Minnesota Division) in the local FMCSA office in St. Paul (380 Jackson Street, Galtier Plaza, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55101; 651-291-6150, charles.stmartin@dot.gov).

 

If you have concerns about the new ELD Rule and its effects on your business, please share them with Jim Calkins at jim@mnla.biz or 952-935-0682.  Documentation of price increases, increased driver and trucking shortages, higher shipping costs, increased job costs and reduced profits, longer delivery times, more plants stressed or lost during transit, and any other negative impacts associated with the new ELD Rule will be helpful in supporting national efforts to address the concerns of the horticulture industry relative to these new regulations.

 

For additional information about the HOS regulations (49 CFR 395) and the new ELD requirements, the following resources available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and other sources may be of interest:


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