Truck drivers have seen some big changes to their industry over the years. But perhaps the most widespread and sweeping change by regulators went into effect on December 18, 2017.
The logbook has been a standard item in commercial trucks for decades. Truck drivers are expected to keep track of their hours accurately, but this isn’t just for the sake of their pay sheet. Logs are designed to ensure drivers comply with hours-of-service rules.
Truckers are only allowed a certain amount of time on the road before they are required by law to stop and rest. This is designed to prevent drivers from risking it when they’re drowsy for the sake of getting a better paycheck, and also to prevent freight companies from pushing their drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines by suggesting they skip their breaks.
Falsified logs were a big concern in the industry for years. But regulators now believe they’ve fixed that issue – paper logs are no more, and now commercial trucks are required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) that automate the hour-tracking process.
But the change isn’t going off without a hitch. It was reported that there were some troubles enforcing the mandate on launch day. In most places, fines and citations won’t be issued to violators until the grace period ends on April 1. But even with an extra three months to get acclimated to the new changes, many carriers are struggling.
There have been plenty of protests organized in recent months to protest the change. Some drivers claim the move is a privacy violation, while others say it’s a move to push independent drivers out of the market. Many drivers have even stated they’d consider leaving the line of work if such a sweeping change was allowed to stand.
Aside from a few exemptions in special cases, the ELD mandate will affect the entire American trucking industry. But losing drivers could be a killing blow for many of America’s freight carriers. Even some of the biggest companies in the filed have seen their turnover rates jump to a staggering 95 percent in recent years.
The industry has almost universally accepted the ELD mandate and the driver shortage as the two most concerning issues moving into the new year. With thousands of drivers expected to be needed in the coming years, a mandate like this could cripple the industry.
Some companies have begun releasing solutions to help carriers establish regulatory compliance. But for drivers and companies that lack extra funding to make the switch, the cost could be too much.
Though truckers were not able to get the ELD mandate repealed or delayed, they were successful in thwarting certain other regulations of the previous presidential administration. A proposed lower speed limit on heavier vehicles was shot down, as was a mandatory sleep apnea test for all truck drivers.
Some carriers have already made the switch to ELDs. But with many still in the process, the next few months could be tough for America’s freight carriers.