The ELD Mandate has made a definite impact on the trucking industry.
This ruling requires trucking companies to place an electronic logging device or ELD system inside all commercial trucks that operate more than 100 miles from their company’s home base.
Paper Logs Are Being Ushered Out
For years drivers used logbooks to record their HOS or Hours of Service manually.
The log book system works but it requires drivers to keep accurate logs and sometimes people make mistakes.
Often times, drivers would take advantage of the system and falsify records.
Over the years, accidents involving commercial trucks increased and this was partially blamed on the lack of control over commercial drivers H.O.S.
In many cases, these accidents were due to driver fatigue: drivers behind the wheel for too long.
Why the Change to ELD’S?
The rising accident rate led the NTSB and the American Trucking Association, to pressure the FMCSA and Congress to create a way to control the number of hours a truck driver is allowed on the road within a 24-hour period.
The result is the ELD Mandate.
It requires trucking companies to install an ELD system in commercial vehicles so drivers can record their Record of Duty Status electronically.
It’s fast and easy to use. There’s no concern about human error so it’s also more accurate than manual logs.
Still, there’s a lot of skepticism surrounding the ELD Mandate.
What is the Purpose of an ELD?
The main purpose of the system is to reduce driver fatigue and make the highways safer for everyone but it also gives trucking companies more control over drivers.
The ELD system allows companies to track:
- How many hours the driver is on the road
- The hours the driver is available to drive
- Where the driver is and what he is doing at any given time
What is the US ELD Mandate?
In the U.S., every commercial licensed vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds must have an electronic logging device installed in order to comply with the ELD Mandate.
What is the The Canadian ELD Mandate?
The ELD Mandate for Canada is similar to the U.S. version.
The difference is that Canada does not require companies to put ELD systems in their commercial vehicles at this time.
However, that is expected to change in June 2021.
This is the date when all Canadian commercial vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more must have an electronic logging device installed if they travel 150 miles or more outside the company’s home base.
Who is Exempt From the ELD Rule?
It is important to note that the ELD Mandate does have a few exceptions to the rule.
- Emergency vehicles and drivers who haul livestock are also exempt but that could change soon.
Are Gliders Exempt From ELD Mandate?
- In the U.S. glider kits and commercial vehicles with an engine build date pre 2000 are exempt from this ruling.
Any commercial vehicle with an engine build date pre 2000 is also exempt from the ruling (US only)
In Canada, however, there are no ELD exemptions in place for any commercial vehicles but that could change when the ruling is enforced.
How Does the ELD Mandate for Owner Operators Work?
Owner Operators are required just the same as company vehicles to comply with the ruling.
Some trucking companies will provide the ELD for the owner operator at no cost, some will charge the owner operator for the device. Some may even offer the device to the owner operator at a discounted rate.
How the ELD Can Benefit the Truck Driver
Professional truck drivers seem to have mixed feelings about the implementation and the effectiveness of the ELD system.
Even though some truck drivers do not like the ELD system, some say it’s beneficial.
- Less pressure. For many truckers, it takes away some of the pressure associated with driving.
Once they get accustomed to using the schedule, some drivers say it takes some of the stress away because they know exactly when they should be on the road.
- More leisure time. Some say they have more leisure time so they feel rested and ready for the drive.
Why Some Truck Drivers Don’t Like the ELD System
First and foremost, it cannot be argued that the implementation of ELD Mandate is contributing to the truck driver shortage in the U.S.
- Causes Accidents. Some truckers even believe it may cause more accidents than it prevents.
- Too Restrictive. Experienced truck drivers don’t like the system because it can be too restrictive. It prevents a driver from making their own decision to drive when they feel rested to do so. Instead, their driving time is dictated by the clock on the ELD system.
- Reduction in Pay. The mandate regulates the number of hours drivers are allowed on the road. Since the typical driver pay system is tracked by mileage, it’s difficult for drivers to follow the Hours of Service rules and make a fair and decent wage.
- Drivers Are Still Tired. In order to earn sufficient pay, many drivers will drive tired. It is legal to drive tired, as long as the ELD indicates the driver has the legal status to be ‘On Duty Driving’.
- Transition Between U.S. + Canada. Drivers that cross the U.S. and Canada borders also run into problems. Making the transition from the ELD Mandate to the Canadian Hours of Service and vice versa is difficult. Work needs to be done to make this transition go more smoothly.
These are just some of the main problems affecting truck drivers and the reason why the ELD Mandate is causing the truck driver shortage in the U.S.
After all, a truck driving job hasn’t become easier over the past number of years, but has become more challenging and stressful.
Many drivers are earning lower wages as a result of ELD’s. No wonder they are leaving the industry in search of another career.
Some drivers question if this electronic logging system really makes the road safer or is this ELD system, just a way to have more control over them and how much they earn?
Driver Thoughts on ELD’S
How the ELD Mandate Benefits the Trucking Company
Electronic logging devices are a benefit to the trucking company.
- Efficiency. ELD’s create and improve driver schedules
- Control. They prevent drivers from reporting false Hours of Service
- Create Records. They track violations and speeding, with the intent to reduce tickets and accidents
- Increased Accuracy. More accurate records when the driver logs in and out of the system. This eliminates human error and the need to spend countless hours going over paperwork to check for mistakes or violations
- Track Driver H.O.S. + Availability. This information is valuable to the company when scheduling freight movement. Companies greatly benefit from the instant accessibility and ability to view the data in a fast and efficient manner.
Problems Trucking Companies Have with the Mandate
Small trucking companies. The smaller carriers have the most problems with the ELD Mandate. The systems can be expensive, making it difficult for small companies with limited funds to pay for, install and maintain the system.
Can Be Difficult to Attract Drivers. Some smaller companies feel the need to offer incentives to attract drivers, which cuts into their already thin profit margin.
Excessive Control. Trucking companies seem to dislike the stringent control placed over their scheduling and freight moves.
Can Be Tricky For Dispatchers. Dispatchers sometimes complain that even though they have more information on drivers, the system can still makes scheduling loads more difficult.
They must learn how H.O.S. rules in order to explain it to customers so they understand why they may not get their deliveries as soon as they would like due to driver restrictions.
How Has the ELD Influenced the Future of the Trucking Industry?
The ELD mandate has generally been very upsetting for many truckers. They feel their livelihood being threatened, by even greater control over their driving and earning potential.
Perhaps due to the unrest in the industry, including heavy scrutiny by the authorities and public pressures, the average trucker is reluctant to adapt to the system, as it’s just one more ‘nail in the coffin’ for a job that has less appeal than ever.
The trucking companies are now forced to switch over to the electronic record keeping, but many of the smaller companies are finding the cost prohibitive.
Throughout the years, public concerns have pressured the trucking industry to find ways to make highways safer.
The ELD mandate was designed to do just that by placing a greater element of control over the number of hours drivers are behind the wheel and when they are behind the wheel.
ELD Mandate and the Driver Shortage
Many of the senior, more experienced licensed drivers are leaving their truck driving careers due to the implementation of the ELD ruling.
They feel this method is too rigid and potentially an unsafe system.
This mandate has contributed to an already existing shortage of qualified truck drivers in the U.S.
Many drivers feel it’s too restrictive and prevents them from earning a good wage for the job they do.
They’re leaving the industry because of it, which is fueling the truck driver shortage.
Still, the electronic logging system is here to stay and more changes in regulations are sure to follow.
To stay profitable, the trucking industry must face the fact that this is their future and decide how to better handle it.
Will trucking companies, especially the small ones, be able to survive the changes taking place within the industry and find new ways to attract drivers?
Will drivers take on all the responsibilities and sacrifices associated with driving a truck if they continue to see their paychecks getting smaller?
Are these changes REALLY about safety? Will the new system make our highways safer?
The answers to these questions are yet to be seen, now that the ELD Mandate in the US is a reality and will soon be the same in Canada.
No doubt the ELD Mandate will help to shape the future of the trucking industry in North America.