The commercial trucking industry is about to undergo a massive change.
On December 18, truckers will be required to abandon their paper logbooks in favor of electronic logging devices. This controversial mandate has led to vocal supporters and detractors making their opinion heard on this important issue.
The issue was even listed by the American Trucking Associations as one of the top concerns in the industry, ranking right up alongside the driver shortage.
The devices are designed to track the amount of time a truck is active, by analyzing engine activity and determining when a driver should leave the road for their breaks or rest period. Many drivers have been accused of fudging paper logs to violate hours-of-service rules, giving themselves more time on the road than allowed by law.
Concerns about drowsy drivers nodding off behind the wheel of 40-ton rigs was enough to get the mandate passed, though industry experts have rattled off lists of concerns about such a sweeping change.
Petitions for delays have been all but rejected, and exemptions have only been given out in very special cases. For the majority of the industry, the change will go through as planned in less than a month.
While some people claimed the mandate would violate their privacy, others claimed it could put drivers in danger. When a driver is on the road and the time comes for their rest break, they may not be close by a safe place to stop. But with ELDs, drivers will not have the liberty of making these decisions and doing what is best for them based on the situation – they will be bound to an electronic record of their activity.
This also counts for the time trucks are parked and being loaded. This means the first casualty of the ELD mandate may be slow shippers who bog down progress for carriers.
Kevin Hill, president and founder of CarriersLists, says his company provides weekly ELD compliance polls to gauge how well the industry is adapting to the change. He also said that the mandate could create problems with carriers.
To respond to these concerns, carriers are launching programs to help them prioritize their efforts to preferred shippers. This means those customers who are swift when it comes to loading or unloading cargo will receive favorable treatment in the eyes of big companies, that must now allocate their time more carefully.
Hill said: “If you’re a shipper that doesn’t like paying detention and you’re a mess to load and unload, carriers will drop you. Those shippers could end up paying more for not being able to find carriers.”
It was reported that nearly two-thirds of carriers and owner-operators spent at least three hours at shipping docks waiting for freight to be loaded or unloaded. With their time being analyzed more stringently starting in December, they’ll be watching the clock more carefully.
Shippers who fail to comply with the ELD mandate could face penalties, though a grace period will be in effect through April 1.