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Falling on deaf ears

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” - Ernest Hemingway

The FMCSA seems to have a hearing problem. Or, more to the point, a listening problem.

Take, for example, the May 9th public forum on Electronic Logging Devices. It’s already booked to capacity. No room at the inn. There are so many people wanting to speak at this thing you’d think the remaining Beatles were reuniting.

The last time FMCSA officials appeared in public to talk about ELDs was at MATS. And again they were overwhelmed with truck drivers who wanted to speak their minds and talk about how bad this ELD mandate will be for their businesses.

Drivers aren’t the only ones who are concerned. We’ve been hearing from law enforcement officials across the country (most recently at the spring CVSA conference) that they are in no way ready to enforce this mandate. They have been given little – if any – guidance from the FMCSA on exactly how to enforce it, how the technology works, how they are supposed to use it, etc.

And yet in spite of this concern from the two groups who will see the most direct impact from this disaster waiting to happen, the FMCSA has shown little interest in listening to anyone outside of the people manufacturing the ELDs themselves.

Think about it. The MATS event was designed not to listen, but to tell. Ostensibly it was created to educate truck drivers on what they need to know to be compliant with the mandate – not to get driver feedback on whether or not the mandate was any good (hint: it isn’t). The May 9 event is designed to hear from manufacturers of ELDs about the technical specifications of these amazing devices that will surely save us all.

But the fact is there are so many lingering questions that nobody has bothered to answer just months away from the deadline – even though that deadline has been known since the mandate went into effect in December of 2015. That’s two whole years to answer all of these questions and yet here we are closing in on 7 months out and nobody is ready. Not law enforcement. Not truckers. Maybe not even the manufacturers.

So remind me again – why are we moving ahead with this thing? I know it was a mandate from Congress and not the FMCSA. And it may just be my imagination but judging by their lackluster response it almost seems to me as if the FMCSA isn’t all that excited about carrying it out either. But carry it out they must, and that means at the very least they need to open their collective ears and listen.

Those voices are getting too loud to ignore any longer.


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