The introduction of the ELD mandate has restarted a national conversation regarding the government’s role in private business. At its root the mandate, which requires long-haul drivers use an electronic device to record their working hours, raises a question that is as old as the American economy itself – to what extent is the government justified to interfere in private business? A question this complex does not have a simple answer.
The history of the government influencing commerce begins with the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” This “Commerce Clause,” particularly the second section concerning “the several states,” has been subject to numerous interpretations. Many of these interpretations have led to positive change. Backed by this piece of legislation, Congress has been able to fight corporate discrimination, counterfeiting, racketeering and other illegal acts. It has also been able to create the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Cabinet department that houses the FMCSA. The FMCSA is the government agency behind the ELD mandate.
Many businesses see the ELD mandate as the government interfering in their affairs, as the mandate closely monitors how drivers allocate their working time. Whether or not this interpretation is valid comes down to the balance of power that must exist between the government and private businesses. Governments must be able to address corruption and, in the American economy, private businesses must be allowed to compete with each other. The mandate does not hinder free competition. It does, however, help prevent companies and drivers from violating federal laws concerning work hours. Those laws themselves are subject to consistent discussion to ensure they accurately reflect drivers’ needs. The ultimate effect of the mandate will be that companies who routinely violate federal laws will either be forced to comply or forced out of the market. Businesses should take this into consideration when researching the mandate and assessing the differing points of view surrounding it.
To learn about ELDs and how to ensure your fleet is compliant, visit: ELD Compliance