Even if the current legislative effort on Capitol Hill succeeds in its goal of delaying the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate for two years, it is still only a delay: ELDs still seem poised to eventually become a routine part of everyday trucking life of owner-operators and company drivers alike. With that in mind, Jeremy Feucht, a regulatory affairs analyst with Truckstop.com, offers some thoughts on how to make complying with the ELD mandate – whenever it might go into effect – advantageous, especially for independents and smaller-sized motor carriers.
After years of debate, lawsuits, and delays, legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives to delay the ELD mandate by two years won’t end it so much as kick the can further down the road.
By preparing now, you can help make the ELD mandate work for you and gain an advantage over those who procrastinate. Here are three ways you can do this:
- Raise your asking price. The average cost to ELD users will be roughly $25 to $30 per truck, per month (costs will vary depending on your unit’s functionality, bells, and whistles). Because your overhead costs are increasing due to the mandate, plan to raise your asking price by at least 1% per mile. At current van rates, this would equal out to about 18 cents per mile. This would increase your rate-per-mile to $2.03 or $1,017.50 per-load, on average, and give you enough margin not only to offset the cost of the service but also any equipment you may need to purchase in addition to the cost of training yourself and your employees.
- Adopt the ELD now and stay ahead of the competition. Studies show that, while bad habits take three weeks to break, it takes months to get comfortable with a new (and in this case, forced) routine. Logging into a system, ensuring it’s working properly, knowing what to look for and when, logging out, and how your day-to-day duties change is just a small sample of what you and your team will be tasked with learning. Waiting until the last minute to adopt the ELD puts you at risk of losing out on freight and racking up fines and points against your record. But, by adopting now, you have a better chance of running circles around those who wait to purchase and learn their new system. While they’re sitting at home, trying to figure out what’s going on with their ELD, your tires are rolling under loads they missed.
- Use the ELD as an additional bargaining chip. In your negotiations with freight brokers and shippers, remember, without trucks, loads don’t move. When the mandate goes into effect, there will likely be a shortage of compliant drivers and trucks. Use the power of your compliance to negotiate rates that offset the cost of the mandate. Know your overhead cost to the cent and make sure you’re negotiating rates that cover those costs and leave you with a livable wage.
Get used to the ins and outs of the mandate now so you don’t run the risk of getting placed out of service, simply because you didn’t know a rule or how to work the system and equipment.
By doing these few simple things, you can effectively turn the ELD mandate into something that works for you instead of against you.