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3 Ways the ELD Mandate Has Impacted Trucking

The ELD (electronic logging device) trucking mandate is quite possibly the biggest change seen by the trucking industry in over 50 years, and one that many people have mixed feelings about. Since its introduction in December 2017, there’s no doubt it has made a considerable impact on the trucking industry. So, in order to gain a better understanding of this ELD mandate and its effects, we will discuss the implications of the ELD trucking mandate and how it has been impacting the trucking industry since it was put into place.

There are three areas that have been most affected by the trucking mandate, which are:

  • Cost
  • Productivity
  • Safety

Cost

According to the FMCSA, ELD’s were predicted to save approximately $1.6 billion per year as a result of less paperwork. Ultimately, savings indeed have been found through reduced fuel costs, decreased truck downtime and reduced crash rates.

ELD trucking mandate

The savings are surely impressive, but do they make up for the costs of implementing the ELDs? The most common device costs carriers are about $495 per truck. For a small or medium-sized business, that’s a huge expense. One that could drastically be changing the state of their business.

Productivity

Prior to the ELD trucking mandate, industry experts estimated that ELDs would have a 3% – 5% impact on carrier productivity, especially on trips longer than 450, miles and short-haul operations of up to 300 miles that bump against the 14-hour rule. Larger fleets have additionally found a way to sustain productivity by sending out other trucks to pick up a load if a company driver is delayed or out of hours.

Safety

The driving force behind the ELD mandate has always been safety. The ELD mandate applies to over 3 million drivers on the road. Therefore, these are 3 million drivers that potentially would not cause fewer accidents due to fatigue and inaccurate HOS logging. An analysis by the FMCSA predicted that the ELD mandate would prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year, due to driver fatigue. By ditching the paper and pen method and adopting the ELD method, current statistics have proven that the ELD mandate ensures that all drivers are following specific safety and compliance standards.

Trucking industry experts have predicted this kind of bumpy road following ELD implementation for a long time. If anything, the industry’s current struggles with the ELD could be a correction to the surging freight market.

 

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The ELD Mandate Is Here: What’s Next?

The ELD mandate went into effect on December 18th, 2017, despite the attempts to delay it. The start hasn’t been smooth, many have been feeling the effects of it, but many are getting used to what is now a reality. A big topic of discussion is whether the mandate will remain in place, but it appears it is.ELD_Mandate_1.jpg

Presently, there are remaining questions about the enforcement and technical aspects of the mandate. Issues have been sprouting for fleet managers and drivers that no one expected until the mandate launched.

With some fleets rushing to be compliant by the 18th, some learned that their devices were not meeting the proper requirements that have been outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The problem has been that fleets have opted for a fast and cheap alternative for an ELD device without understanding the requirements needed for that device.

This has left confusion among owners about whether or not their fleet is in compliance. If not in compliance, there is only an 8-day grace period to make the switch to a proper device or they face a penalty from the FMCSA. Many fleets have been complaining about the costs associated.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), who opposed the mandate, has been receiving a multitude of negative feedback regarding the ELDs and the providers for them. They had once received over 50 calls in a day regarding a complaint about the ELDs. It’s assumed that the providers for the ELDs are not prepared to deal with the owner-operators yet as they are only used to dealing with large fleets.

Enforcement for the ELD mandate has been finicky to start. The FMCSA has enforcement personnel that began documenting violations during roadside inspections, and in some cases, issuing citations to those without a compliant ELD. But some drivers have not issued a citation dependent on the situation (i.e. Device not working abruptly, device notice to be switched etc.…). They will still issue citations for hour of service (HOS) violations though, so be prepared for that if it is to happen. Starting April 1st, 2018, enforcement will be allowed to place drivers out of service if they fail to present the required device.

Talking about being finicky, the technology still isn’t perfect. So, drivers who recently have been dealing with issues regarding their ELD have to find a workable solution if they are being inspected. Drivers have had to resort to the previous style of paper logging to record their hours of service because of a failed ELD solution. The fleet usually has records if the device fails but it creates an inconvenience for both the fleet and the driver. Enforcement will no doubt issue a violation if a driver cannot produce logs.

Either way, you put it, the ELD has not been running as smooth as the FMCSA has hoped. It is expected that the problems will continue to persist until the mandate is pulled back as some have hoped. Unless the technology can be perfected, there are still variables of error that can occur.

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Will Shippers Benefit from the ELD Mandate?

All interstate commercial trucks must install and update electronic logging devices (ELDs) by November 30, 2017. An ELD allows truck drivers and commercial carriers to efficiently record and track their hours of service. 

ELDs are a welcomed gain for safety and efficiency in the transportation industry. Fleets and drivers have the opportunity to maximize drive times and reduce manual paperwork. Shippers will see advantages, too; ELDs can increase shippers revenue and provide ways to streamline transportation processes.

The FMCSA’s mandate will affect more than 3.5 million truck drivers and was created to optimize driver performance, reduce carrier’s fuel costs, eliminate downtime and create safer roads.

  • ELDs will save each truck driver about 20 hours of time, according to the FMCSA, previously used to fill out paper driver logs.
  • ELDs will reduce fuel costs by observing truck idle times. Companies can encourage drivers to boost fuel efficiency with incentives.
  • ELDs will decrease vehicle downtime by 15% and improve vehicle utilization by 13%.
  • Drivers using ELDs have a lower total crash rate and preventable crash rate compared to fleets without ELD technology.

Shippers realize the advantages of working with carriers/drivers who use ELDs.

Once ELDs are set up, there is more visibility of fleets and drivers. An ELD automatically records drive time, monitors when the truck is in motion, records duty status, miles driven, and location information. It’s easy to tell when a driver is moving or waiting, and how many hours are left on a particular route. This real-time visibility helps shippers and carriers schedule accurate pick up times and sufficient dock door labor.

As a shipper, you have to be mindful of the driver’s time, especially while capacity is tight and carriers choose to work with those on their preferred shipper list. With ELDs, it’s easy to track the time a shipper clocked into a shipper’s facility and how long they were there. If the driver is stuck at a location for a prolonged amount of time, it could hurt the shipper’s status.

ELDs allow shippers to proactively improve driver efficiency by being flexible with pickup and delivery times, having labor ready to unload or load freight, and by being a driver-friendly facility. This improves their ability to secure capacity on a regular basis and helps keep shipping costs low from fewer upcharges and accessorial fees.

ELDs are powerful tools that will help reduce truck driver fatigue, decrease downtime and improve highway safety. With paper logs, there wasn’t this kind of real-time driver visibility. As more carriers implement ELDs in their fleets, the benefits for shippers will grow.

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