New York state admitted it has not enforced a 2017 law that ensures truck drivers don't work longer than 14 hours

truck driverDavid Zalubowski/APNew York truck drivers haven't been docked for ELD violations since the law came into effect in December 2017.David Zalubowski/AP

  • New York state officials said they have not been enforcing the electronic logging device mandate, which came into effect in December 2017.
  • That information came to light in a New York Supreme Court ruling filed on December 31, 2018.
  • The mandate has proven wildly unpopular among truck drivers, who say it harms their schedules, take-home pay, and safety. 
  • ELDs enforce the hours of service law, which stipulates that truckers can drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period. 

An association of independent truck drivers sued New York's police and transportation departments over a wildly unpopular trucking law.

But it turns out, the state of New York hadn't been enforcing the law at all. 

The electronic logging device mandate came into effect in December 2017 under federal law. Following that, states were supposed to incorporate that federal mandate into their own laws.

Not all of them have done it, so the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has pursued lawsuits with certain states that have enforced the unpopular mandate while lacking a state-level law against it.

Read more: Angry California truck drivers are slamming a new rule that requires them to take unpaid rest breaks, one calling the change a 'travesty' for safety

So when the truckers' group sued New York, their complaint was dismissed. Not because the New York court agreed with the state's actions to enforce the federal law, but because New York wasn't enforcing the law in the first place.

That information came to light in a State of New York Supreme Court ruling and opinion issued on December 31 by Judge Richard M. Platkin.

"Drivers are not being stopped, cited, or placed out of service pursuant to the ELD rule," Platkin wrote. 

Marc Berger, who is the chief motor-carrier investigator for New York's Department of Transportation, said in the December 31 ruling that there are "no notices of violation or uniform traffic tickets being issued citing ELD provisions."

The other defendants in the case -New York's state police and the Department of Motor Vehicles - also stated that the ELD law hasn't been enforced.  

truck driver1Charlie Neibergall/APElectronic logging devices (usually called ELDs or E-logs) record driving hours by monitoring a vehicle's engine.Charlie Neibergall/AP

The ELD mandate gives teeth to the hours of service (HOS) law, which has been in effect since the federal government began regulating trucking in the 1930s. The HOS law stipulates that truckers can drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period, a provision that truckers say doesn't reflect the nature of their work

Previously to the ELD mandate, many truck drivers documented their work on paper logs, which can be more easily fudged than an electronic log. Many truckers told Business Insider that they did not follow HOS law, but ELDs now force them to follow the federal law or else receive a fine of thousands of dollars

New York state said in the ruling that it does enforce the HOS law. But the law is more challenging to enforce if ELDs, which accurately reflect how long truckers have been working, are not being tracked or considered, as the court ruling suggested. 

Read more: Here's why a little-known autonomous trucking company is beating Tesla and Waymo in the race for driverless big rigs

The ELD mandate came into effect via a 2012 law passed under President Barack Obama. The provision was championed as a way to protect the safety of truckers and others on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimated in 2014 that ELDs could prevent up to 1,714 crashes, 522 injuries, and 24 deaths each year.

But dozens of truckers have told Business Insider that ELDs are doing the opposite.

"The electronic logs are supposed to make it safer, but really it has created a hazardous race to beat the clock," longtime truck driver Steve Manley, 51, previously told Business Insider. "Drivers are now more reckless than ever trying to make it to their destination before the clock runs out with the mandatory breaks and such."

Read the State of New York Supreme Court ruling here:

 

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