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Embrace change or lose your business, conference speakers warn


As a slew of regulatory and tech changes hit the trucking and freight industries, the businesses that succeed will be the ones that are open to innovation — and surveillance.

“Even without the ELD [electronic logging device] mandate, not going with telematics in your truck is not going to work for your business,” said Dave Gray, president of Glostone, a Portland-area trucking solutions company. “When you ask people: ‘How are ELDs working for you, what you’re really asking is: ‘How do you perceive technology?’”

Gray was one of several speakers who talked about ELDs, drug testing and personal conveyance rules during today’s 2019 Trucking Safety & Compliance Conference NW in Portland.

Here are a few highlights from the morning sessions:

On drug testing:

Lukas Shaw of CleanFleet, a third-party drug testing company, noted that a federal Department of Transportation rule expanding the drug panel to include four common opioids has led to prolonged wait times for test results. Urine tests used to take 24-48 hours, he said. Now it’s 48-96 hours.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new alcohol and drug testing clearinghouse is slated to go live in 2020, although there is plenty of skepticism about the agency actually meeting the deadline. The portal is designed to give employers drug testing information for the employee for the previous five years.  

Employers will be required to query the clearinghouse to request testing histories. The employers need to make sure that employee CDL or ID numbers are up to date, and that they have permission from the driver to query the clearinghouse. For the first three years, employers will still have to conduct standard background checks, but that requirement will be phased out by 2023.

On ELDs:

From FMCSA’s perspective, ELDs are working, Gray said. Oregon statistics show a similar trajectory. (Oregon ranks 33rd in the country for number of trucks registered, but in the top three for  number of inspections.)

Before ELDs went into effect (in October 2017), the driver out-of-service violation rate was 14.7 percent – out of 30,000 inspections. A year after the rule went into effect, the violation rate dropped to 11.5 percent.

Of the violations, 159 were for driving more than 11 hours; 249 were for driving more than 14 hours.

“This is verification to me that ELDs are working,” Gray said. As for the larger question – “Are ELDs decreasing crashes or reducing fatalities?” – those statistics are not yet available.

Once truckers get used to the ELD requirements, they don’t want to go back to paper, Gray said. “They are finding value there. It’s not going to go backwards.”

Full compliance with ELDs will be required by December 2019.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.