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Highlighting the impact of the ELD mandate so far on trucking

Delivery times are being rescheduled, capacity is tightening, and confusion is growing.

In its latest blog, DAT Solutions reached out to truck drivers, motor carriers, shippers and freight brokers to find out how their businesses are being affected by the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

Responses – there are 110 so far – ranged from “turned truck in” and “put me out of business” to “nothing really has changed” and “ELDs suck!!”

In one comment, Marina Andreyreva wrote: “ELDs were installed in all my trucks before the ELD mandate. There have been many changes in dispatching. So far, all delivery times have been rescheduled due to long hold times at the shipper. Problems at shippers now heavily reflect on drivers’ hours. This must be addressed in order to operate efficiently for both drivers and company owners. Brokers need to be aware of HOS and understand the law in order to build freight accordingly.”

While the industry is still trying to work out the unknowns of how ELDs will impact trucking capacity, rates, and the still-growing truck driver shortage, analysts are also trying to hone in on some of the other problems that have developed.

DAT analyst Mark Montague, who mentioned load-to-truck ratios are currently at record highs, noted it is imperative that shippers make their operations more driver-friendly. He emphasized the need for solid communication between the receiving gate and the dock to minimize loading and unloading times.

“I’ve been in drop lots where a driver has to spend a half hour hunting down his trailer,” Montague said. “So there are a number of things shippers can do to make it friendlier for truck drivers and minimize their time spent at the facilities.”

The need for shippers to work more efficiently was also apparent in many of the comments in DAT’s recent blog. One comment in particular, from “PG,” stated: “Yes, [the mandate] has greatly impacted our business. Shipper and receivers are not ready at all. We had to cancel several loads already due to time constraints and shippers not working efficiently. I'm not going to take any loads without factoring in money for sitting and delays. That's the reality now... Hope everyone does the same ...”

Confusion and issues are also evident on the enforcement side as well.

“The biggest problem we’ve seen at roadside is the training enforcement received is somewhat minimal if any,” explained Fred Fakkema, vice president of compliance for Zonar Systems. “I think they’re still going through it. The issue today is when one of our legacy customers that are running AOBRDs (automatic onboard recording devices), which are grandfathered in until 2019, are being questioned as to why they don’t have an ELD and then written up on the inspection report, if you will.”

Though enforcement officers are not putting truckers out of service for not having an ELD until April 1, they are still looking to see if drivers are indeed complying with the mandate. FMCSA [the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] has maintained that CSA [Compliance, Safety, Accountability] points won’t go against the carrier right away, but officers are still making notes in their inspection reports.

The problem, according to Fakkema, who is a former 25-year veteran with the Washington State Patrol, is that officers still don’t understand that grandfathered-in AOBRD truckers do not need to have an ELD – at least not until 2019.

“Coming from the enforcement background, we know how important that first interaction is, how that should take place and what direction it will go if the driver accidentally says ‘ELD’ when he means ‘AOBRD,’” Fakkema added. “It’s really that communication piece on the roadside that’s so important.”

There also has been a lot of discussion about drivers leaving the industry because of the ELD mandate. However, as Montague pointed out, market rates are so strong right now that it’s “hard to envision a meaningful exodus of owner operators in the industry.”

For those who haven’t yet installed an ELD, Montague noted that he believes there will be a lot of pressure to comply with the mandate before April 1.

“I think if the guys get a ticket they are going to be convinced they are going to need to go out and get an ELD,” he explained. “If it gets back to the company the owner operators drive for, that’s not going to sit well with the company because eventually it will impact the company’s insurance rates.”

Montague added that particularly knowledgeable shippers are pretty well educated on the mandate at this point and that they have been requiring their carriers and brokers to use drivers with ELDs.

“If you find out your load was delayed because the driver didn’t have an ELD and was stopped, that’s definitely going to be a huge negative,” he said.

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