ELD’s Impact on Shipping

What is an ELD?

There has been a flurry of discussion surrounding the ELD (electronic logging device) mandate that comes into full effect as of December 2017, requiring commercial drivers to electronically record their record of duty (ROC). Synced with the vehicle engine, the device automatically records driving times, eliminating the need for paper logs. Information recorded and transmitted includes date and time, mileage and engine hours, geographic location and other information. This signifies the most dramatic change in the trucking industry in decades. 

The Goal to Improve Safety

The new mandate allows motor carriers to simply record and ensure hours of service compliance. The intent is to alleviate driver fatigue related collisions caused by too many hours on the road, decreasing fatalities and injuries on the roadways. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) aims to put a strict 55-hour per week cap on commercial drivers. While improving safety is important to carriers, drivers, and shippers, there are anticipated advantages and challenges raised in the discussion of this new mandate and its parameters, which will impact more than 3 million truck drivers and the entire shipping industry.

The Productivity Debate

The move to electronic logging greatly reduces paperwork for drivers, and associated administration processes for carrier companies. The device offers convenience, allowing drivers to easily check Record of Duty Status to confirm hours worked each day. Logs are also readily accessible to dispatchers and managers of carrier fleets. This is expected to increase productivity. However, a number of analysts argue that there will actual be a decrease in productivity due to the restriction put on drivers as they try to meet shipment delivery deadlines. For instance, what happens if the driver doesn’t have enough hours to deliver groceries or goods to the big box retailer? 

Cost and Limitations

The average cost of outfitting one truck with an ELD on average is somewhere in the 500 ballpark depending on the device model. The FMCSA expects the truck industry transition to ELD will cost roughly $975 million. This encompasses the outfitting costs, training for drivers and the implementation of inspections. However, the FMCSA are foreseeing savings of about 1.4 billion attributed to the reduction in paperwork.

A hot-button issue expressed by many is the 55 hour work week restriction makes driving schedules less flexible, and that this cap is not always practical in meeting delivery schedules. Moreover, it puts a ceiling on how much income commercial drivers can earn each week. Many analysts predict a rise in freight rates because of the new mandate The positives and challenges of the transition to ELD and the new rule surrounding it remain to be seen.