ELD Mandate: What does it mean for truck drivers?
The entire trucking industry will be affected to some degree when the ELD mandate goes into effect December 17, 2017. Virtually all heavy-duty trucks will need to have electronic logging devices installed to log hours of service and remain compliant with FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) regulations. However, some drivers will be affected more than others.
Motor carriers with large fleets of trucks have already relied on ELDs for years to monitor deliveries and service hours, so there will be no change for them. Most freight in North America is hauled by those major carriers. However, many independent owner-operators and small fleets continue to use paper logs and have yet to transition to ELDs. The clock is ticking.
With seven months left before the deadline, the percentage of drivers still using paper logs is not known. Some freight brokers and industry experts think that as many as half of the number of heavy-haul drivers who do not work for large motor carriers do not yet use ELDs. This means that the time is now to shop for and install ELDs in the remaining trucks as the push to stay compliant will be increasing this fall.
How will ELDs affect freight?
Some analysts predict that closer regulation of hours of service could mean that some drivers who have had trouble staying competitive and profitable will leave the industry. It can be expected that a number of independent owner operators could retire early or close their own business and work for someone else.
Some experts say that capacity will be between 3% and 10% tighter with trucks taking more hours for deliveries and fewer drivers available. However, many experts believe that the most drivers have already been compliant – with or without ELDs – and that changes in capacity will be minimal.
Having the ELD deadline the week before Christmas might seem like a slow time for trucking, but early December is one of the busiest times of every year for freight. If the industry sees even a small change in truck availability in December, this could bring a temporary crunch in capacity at this high-cargo-volume period. However, no one can predict how long any temporary decrease in productivity could affect the industry.
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