In the trucking industry, safety is paramount—and we need be to working harder than ever to achieve it.
That was the major takeaway from the Washington Trucking Associations Safety Management Council’s 2017 Fall Conference (PDF), which we attended earlier this month. For those who aren’t familiar: the WTA is nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and advocating on behalf of carriers in the state of Washington, and its annual get-togethers provide important updates for those active in the world of transportation.
If you missed the event, or would like to refresh your memory, here were some of the highlights:
The ELD Mandate: Just a Month Away
It’s been nearly two years since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration passed its final rule on electronic logging devices, and the controversial mandate is scheduled to go into effect next month. In very basic terms, the ELD rule requires carriers and drivers to record hours of service through electronic devices rather than the old pen-and-paper methods.
While the FMCSA believes that the ELD rule will improve safety and information accuracy, opponents argue that ELDs place untenable financial burdens on carriers, and may, in some cases, actually make operators less safe.
Say, for instance, that a driver got stuck in traffic and lost an hour of transit time. Now, she’s just half an hour away from home, but she’s already logged 11 consecutive hours on the road. With an ELD in place, she has no choice but to stop the vehicle—perhaps somewhere where it may be difficult, dangerous, or illegal to park. Fudging the numbers is no longer possible. For better or worse, drivers can no longer rely only on their best judgement.
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Legal Cannabis and Other Emerging Factors Affecting Driver Safety
And ELDs are only one piece of the complex driver safety puzzle. Darin Grondel, Commissioner of the Washington State Traffic Commission, gave a presentation to conference attendees about the state’s “Target Zero” program, which seeks to bring the number of accident-related deaths down to 0.
Cannabis is an especially tough issue. Lawmakers have collected years and years of research about alcohol: what blood alcohol level indicates intoxication, how long it takes a body to metabolize alcohol, and how to spot a driver under the influence. By contrast, we have no idea how long the effects of cannabis remain active in a person’s system, nor exactly how it impacts driver behavior.
At the same time, legal questions over an employee’s right to use medical cannabis, disparities between state and federal laws, and the push for legalization across the country are only complicating things further.
Let’s Stay Ahead of the Curve, Together
We’ve written about the dynamic nature of regulations countless times on this blog, but for many trucking companies, there’s a big difference between legal obligations in the abstract and the day-to-day management of compliance. ELDs, substance abuse, and other factors pose significant challenges for any fleet.
It takes more than a commitment to safety to stay ahead of the curve, remain on the right side of regulations, and keep your operators protected. Whatever the future brings, Compli is here to help. Your company’s reputation and driver well-being are sacred—so let us take care of all the operational inefficiencies that get in the way.