A recent survey conducted by CarrierLists of 1,600 fleets found that only 37% are now “compliant” with the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate due to go into effect December 18 – a percentage the firm’s president and founder, Kevin Hill, described as “shockingly low.”
He explained in an interview with American Trucker that one of the reasons adoption of ELDs is lagging so much is that the devices “take away the freedom to operate” and will affect both pay and productivity for truck drivers.
“It’s a ‘big brother’ thing, too,” Hill said, regarding the widespread dislike of ELDs by drivers across the industry. “They really hate them.”
He did point out, though, that the 37% figure represents “a significant increase” from CarrierLists’ initial survey on this subject back in early October. At that time, only 23% of the motor carriers polled had or were in the process of installing ELDs, Hill noted.
A recent interview with small fleet operator Les Willis highlighted some of the many issues surrounding the mandate to use ELDs, specifically its costs.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that the average annual cost of an ELD will be $495 per truck, with a total “cost range” of $165 to $832 per truck on an annualized basis.
The agency also believes the truck industry will realize a “net benefit” of $1 billion through the elimination of paperwork and work time necessary for filling out, filing, and maintaining paper records.
But Willis argued that the direct cost of complying with the impending ELD mandate – estimated to be $1.5 billion for the trucking industry as a whole – will largely fall on the backs of small trucking operators; the ones who can ill afford it.
“The smaller carriers will be responsible for $1.3 billion [of that $1.5 billion in cost] with larger carriers tasked with the remaining $200 million,” he said.
“Who are we really asking to fund this mandate? This level of funding will in essence strain the smaller fleets to the brink of non-existence,” Willis pointed out. “Certainly some will be able to survive, but there will be those who do not. Who picks up this market share and at what cost to the end user?"
He added that over 91% of the over 500,000-plus registered motor carriers within the U.S fall within the range of six units or below, which is one reason why the ELD mandate “bleeds of the ignorance of Congress when it comes to daily trucking operations,” he said. “You cannot have a one-size-fits-all-approach to … this industry.”
CarrierLists’ Hill expressed some of the same sentiments. “What happens to capacity? How about rates? How are shippers going to react? Will it harm the U.S. economy?” he asked. “It looks like there's going to be a chaotic rush of action [to meet] the December deadline.”