An ongoing survey conducted by CarrierLists finds that compliance with the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has reached 91% over the past three weeks for fleet operating 20 trucks or more and hitting 87% for those operating five trucks or less, according to Kevin Hill, the firm’s president and founder.
“We are definitely seeing laggards, especially in the short haul and regional markets, dry bulk carriers, agricultural haulers, and the like,” he explained to American Trucker. “As a result the regional guys still in the mid 80s. But the ‘super regional’ fleets with over a 1,000-mile operating radius and the coast-to-coast long haul guys. They are both above 95% now.”
That’s a big jump from the roughly 75% compliance rate CarrierLists recorded back on Dec. 18 when the ELD mandate went into effect and at the current pace, he expects there will be less than 5% compliance when full enforcement of the mandate commences on April 1.
“There was a lot of fear and trepidation early going into the ELD mandate, but with rates this high, the arguments start to slide away,” Hill said. “Times are good and there is a limited supply of trucks. On top of that, everyone is running less miles but making more money, and as long as everyone is running the same miles, you are not going to argue with that.”
The for-hire truck tonnage index compiled by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is another data point illustrating a spike is occurring in freight volumes, as the trade group said TL tonnage increased 2% in January after falling 0.3% in December and is up 8.8% compared to January of 2017. ATA added that, for all of 2017, the index increased 3.8% over 2016.
“Last month’s gain in tonnage fit with the anecdotal reports we have been hearing from fleets – that freight was solid in what is typically a softer month,” noted Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, in a statement. “With the economy strong, the drivers of truck freight solid, and the inventory cycle in favor of motor carriers, I expect freight tonnage to remain robust in the months ahead.”
However, CarrierLists’ Hill added that the impact on trucking capacity to date from the ELD mandate is looking to be far from the “worst-case scenario,” even with the “full enforcement” deadline of April just six weeks away. “This isn't to say capacity isn't going to get worse as we head into peak shipping season,” he stressed. “We expect pretty much full compliance by April 1 without a lot of laggards. With rates up and capacity tight, it’s a booming business in trucking right now – there is no reason to park your truck. We’re seeing folks get an ELD to ride out this wave. It’s when the rates start to drop that we may see folks turn in their ELDs and trucks and go do something else.”