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E-Logs, Supply Chains Beware

Recently, I received an email from Tim Higham, the CEO of Interstate Transport, pointing out the new provisions regarding the new E-Log rule. Trust me when I say that this new rule can radically change the transportation industry.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has opted to place this new rule into effect June 1, 2012. Basically, the rule states that any carrier that fails a single compliance review will be required to use onboard recorders to track driver hours.

Warning.  The following is my personal opinion on this subject

Having been in the transportation industry during my entire working life, I believe this could be a very dangerous rule if not properly overseen. The basis for this rule is that most violators of hours of service rules have much higher incidence rates for accidents. This statistic is not arguable and has a long and proven history. The belief is that cracking down on these drivers and thus requiring onboard tracking devices will greatly reduce offenders. This may actually work, but at first glance it doesn’t seem that all points have been considered. I believe that it may enable  “cheaters” to cheat with greater ease— offenders are already breaking the rules.

And device tampering is only one concern. Another is the possibility of problems in identifying the respective drivers. I’m not convinced that those who want to will not be able to fool the system that is in place. Further, a portion of those that are compliant will be at risk of being more bound to regulations. Having a family on the road every day, I am rather concerned about highway safety. I just don’t see this rule making a positive impact.  It can only result in greater restrictions for the good guys.

Additionally, this could wreak havoc on already tight capacities. A small reduction in capacity could send rates skyrocketing and create delays and instability in supply chains. This would make big winners out of the offenders and those less likely to comply. A rule meant to crack down on chronic offenders could actually benefit them tremendously.

Keep in mind that this rule can be imposed on a single review. It is my hope and belief that strong domestic manufacturing and a strong U.S. economy will emerge by 2012.  If capacity shrinks due to a non-effective rule, everyone would suffer.

Again, I like the thinking behind greater checks and balances. I just hope these new proposed regulations do not harm the good guys.

Bobby Harris, President and CEO
Follow me @BobbyBG_CEO