On Monday, July 17th, the House Committee on Appropriations passed the 2018 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Funding Bill (THUD Bill), which would allocate funds to the Dept. of Transportaton and other agencies.

After publishing the bill, the committee also issued a report suggesting that FMCSA reexamine the effectiveness of the upcoming ELD manadate, and analyze whether it should be delayed until various issues were addressed.

In the bill’s accompanying report, the committee explained that the current regulatory environment in the trucking industry may be placing an “unusually heavy burden” on small and independent trucking companies.

“Regulatory compliance burdens on small carriers. — Small and independent commercial freight carriers are the backbone of the trucking industry and several rulemakings advanced under the previous administration have placed an unusually heavy burden on this critical segment of the trucking industry. While the Committee acknowledges the importance of ensuring the safety of truckers and the rest of the driving public, new regulations must be implemented and enforced in a way that is mindful of the thousands of small businesses that bear the cost of compliance.”

They go on to say the cost of the ELD mandate, which is set to take effect in December 2017, will disproportionately harm small trucking companies, compared to large carriers which already have the technology in-place. They also explained that the technology may lead to serious, unintended concerns and consequences, without any material benefit.

“For example, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is projected to cost over $2,000,000,000 to implement making it one of the most expensive of all transportation rulemakings advanced under the previous administration. While large carriers already deploy similar technologies for fleet management, smaller carriers will disproportionately bear new costs associated with the mandate and with no compensating benefit to their bottom line. The Committee is concerned by reports of serious complications associated with implementation. Many significant technological concerns remain unresolved, including certification of devices, connectivity problems in remote locations, cyber vulnerabilities, and the ability of law enforcement to access data. Further, there are several industries such as carriers of livestock, insects, and other agricultural products that operate under a complex array of HOS exemptions due to the nature of their business and concerns remain as to whether the technology can process these exemptions.”

The committee then asked the FMCSA to reexamine the effectiveness and potential consequences of the mandate, and consider delaying the rule until all concerns are addressed.

“As a consequence, many carriers have delayed purchase and installation of ELDs until they can be certain the technology will be compliant. The Committee directs FMCSA to review ELD manufacturers technology platforms to confirm that devices not only meet standards and specifications necessary for all affected industries and fleet sizes to be compliant but also provide a user interface that is reasonably easy to navigate.

In light of the heavy burden of this mandate, especially on small carriers, the Committee directs the Department to analyze whether a full or targeted delay in ELD implementation and enforcement would be appropriate and, if so, what options DOT has within its statutory authority to provide temporary regulatory relief until all ELD implementation challenges can be resolved. FMCSA shall provide a report on its findings to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations within 60 days of enactment of this Act.”

The House Appropriates Committee, comprised of 31 members of congress, has requested that the FMCSA carry out the studies and report their results within 60 days.