#ELDorME: Truckers Drive Up Protests And Raise Public Awareness As ELD Mandate Loomsby Jana Ritter - Published: 12/06/2017
With just weeks before the ELD mandate is set to go into effect, truck drivers and industry players opposing the regulation are driving up the protests and demands for it to be delayed.
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On Monday, truck drivers from across the U.S. took to the streets and the nation's truck stops in an effort to bring public awareness to the mandate and to explain their reasons for opposing it. The protests took place at more than 40 locations across the country and James Lamb of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) said they were intended to be a “media blitz” that would help gain public support to convince the DOT or Congress to act in their favor. “While ELDs have been the biggest issue in trucking during the past year, the general public has virtually no knowledge of it,” Lamb said.
As of Dec. 18, the mandate will require truck drivers to replace paper logbooks with some form of ELD. (Currently there are more than 200 ELDs self-certified and registered with the US Department of Transportation). Several industry organizations such as SBTC and OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association) have been drumming up the fight in Washington and calling for a delay or exemptions from the mandate. One chief argument that relates to all truck drivers - is that forcing drivers to use ELDs rather than the paper logs violates their privacy and their right to commercial free speech. Another is that while the FMCSA’s Final Rule makes it mandatory that trucks be equipped with ELDs, there’s nothing in the wording that actually demands they must be used over paper logs.
Drivers gathered at a protest in Baytown, TX (just outside of Houston) also voiced their own reasons to local news channel KHOU. “That truck is my home, my business, my moneymaker. I have a right not to have a GPS tracking device on my home,” said driver Kim Schwindt. Driver David McKinney questioned the real reason behind the ELD mandate. “If you’re a safe operator, why must you be monitored by the federal government, like you’re a criminal?”
Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas also joined truck drivers at the Baytown protest. He had introduced the ELD Extension Act of 2017 in July, but the legislation hasn’t moved. Efforts by Babin and 67 co-sponsors to advance the legislation in Congress before the Dec. 18 deadline have also failed. In September, the House rejected an amendment to a spending bill that would have delayed the mandate and last January, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal of the appellate court decision, blocking further legal challenges to the ELD mandate.
Many drivers are still counting on President Donald Trump as their last hope and they've been trying to get their message out to him on Twitter using the hashtag #ELDorME. However, the Trump administration still has shown no indication of stopping or delaying the mandate.