The switch from paper logbooks to electronic logging devices (ELDs) changed the trucking industry in a big way. Going into effect in late 2017 and seeing the grace period run out on April 1 of this year, the mandate was aimed at reducing fatigue-related fatalities.
The thought process for such a mandate is simple. When truckers used paper logbooks, they could often fudge them to get around hours-of-service rules. These limitations often cut into a driver’s paycheck when road congestion, slow shippers, or engine troubles put them behind on the amount of miles they were aiming for. But drivers, who stay on the job longer than the law allows, are at a higher risk for falling asleep – and a snoozing individual behind the wheel of a 40-ton steel behemoth is a terrifying thought.
Interstate truck drivers are now required to have ELDs in all cases, with a few select exceptions. Short-term truck rentals and drivers with time-sensitive freight (like those in the agricultural transport sector) are given a little leniency. But everyone else who works in the interstate freight transport industry is expected to have a functional ELD in their rig.
But what about drivers who engage in intrastate travel? Short-haul and regional trucking jobs are some of the most popular in the industry, but these are often unaffected by the federal regulations that govern the work lives of interstate drivers. But all that could change if The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security has anything to say about it.
Often known simply as the Trucking Alliance, the group is dedicated to reducing accident rates and making trucking a safer industry. A statement released on July 20 spoke about the proposed change to state governance of ELDs, saying: “State legislatures should consider doing what Congress has done, and require all large trucks to install these devices to make sure drivers are obeying the law. Electronic logging devices should be as common in large trucks as seat belts are.”
Those in favor of ELDs claim that violations have dropped since the mandate went into effect. However, some people have said that ELDs create a tougher industry to work in. Many drivers have reported they’re getting less work, and carriers say they’re getting less business. At a time when freight demand is high, this could lead to economic issues including higher prices for consumers.
For those who oppose ELDs on the basis that they are hurting business, there is another counter argument – that the issue isn’t with ELDs, but with rules they’re meant to encourage compliance with. Hours-of-service rules have long been scrutinized, with some saying they’re too limiting and even that they are designed to push smaller carriers out of business so their larger competitors can thrive.
ELDs are nothing more than a hard drive attached to a truck’s motor – but their impact on the industry has been massive so far. That impact has been mixed, but the Trucking Alliance believes the positives outweigh the negatives and want more ELD legislation in the industry.