A new federal regulation requiring commercial truck drivers to electronically log their hours is drawing both support and criticism from the trucking industry.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule – which went into effect in December 2017, started requiring commercial drivers to outfit their trucks with electronic logging devices (ELDs) to replace the paper time cards the industry has used for decades.

The use of ELDs, like the paper time sheets that preceded them, is intended to ensure that drivers comply with “hours of service” regulations designed to prevent fatigue that can cause accidents. Many trucking companies had already made the change, citing increased efficiency. The cost of the ELDs ranges from several hundred dollars to $1,000+.

American Trucking Association president Chris Spear said in a news release that the rule will benefit truck drivers, "whether in reduced crashes, less time spent on paperwork or in fewer errors in their logbooks."

Some independent owner-operators, though, argue the rule is confusing and don’t allow small businesses the flexibility they need when scheduling drivers.

John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Association, told the Dallas News that objections to using electronic logging devices are really rooted in the hours-of-service rules, and that drivers should be given more flexibility to adjust their schedules and use their own judgement in when it’s safe to drive.