“Waiting on the world to change” is not a good strategy
By: Thomas Bray
Publication: Transport Safety Pro Advisor
Date Posted: 10/24/2017
One scenario that I have seen in the transportation industry are groups of people waiting to see if something is really going to change (and hoping it doesn’t) and other people exerting all kinds of effort (lots of time and treasure) to try to stop or avoid the inevitable. These people do these things rather than proactively moving forward. How many times have I seen this play out? Every time there was a major regulatory change. Cases in point include the drug and alcohol testing mandate, the CDL requirements, the annual vehicle inspection requirement, the 14-hour rule, and the 30-minute break rule (just to name a few).
Current case in point
When the electronic logging mandate was released in December of 2015, many in the industry chose to “wait and see.” The hope with this group was that someone would come along (the agency, the courts, Congress, etc.) and “make it go away.”
Another group in the industry decided to actively fight the change, spending an unknown amount of time and money on the effort. A part of this group has been spending a lot of their time trying to figure out a way out of having to use ELDs by somehow making one of the hours-of-service, logging, or ELD exemptions fit them.
Here is a key point about exemptions. Either you meet the requirements to be able use them, or you don’t. Trying to “make the exemption fit” is usually a recipe for disaster. The problem is, when you make all kinds of changes to be able to use an exemption, what happens when everything goes “back to normal?” Suddenly you have a bunch of drivers using an exemption they no long qualify for.
The question that pops into a lot of people’s minds when they see these efforts is, “Why are these groups willing to either risk fines, bad carrier ratings, and/or spend significant amounts of money to avoid making their drivers use accurate records?” The answer is obvious, no matter what “reasons” are given (Hint: “The cost of the device” is not the real reason!).
Another question that should be asked is, “Where is the return on investment for putting yourself that much at risk or exerting that much effort?”
Not everyone has taken this path
Interestingly, a large segment of the industry saw the value in electronic logging – fewer crashes and violations, being better able to manage the drivers, better tracking of the vehicle and shipments, etc. – and went ahead and started using the devices voluntarily. Some carriers have been using them successfully since the late 1980s.
What is the bottom line?
The electronic logging mandate, just like drug and alcohol testing, CDLs, annual inspections, the 14-hour rule, and the 30-minute rule, is going to happen. It is going to happen to all three groups – the ones that are hoping the world will change, the ones that are actively fighting it, and the ones that are already using the devices. The bottom line is that whichever group you are in, the time has come to make your final preparations and be ready to go on December 17, 2017.
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