Truckers fear ELD mandate's side effects, aggravated capacity crunch

Original Post Source

Dive Brief:

  • Pending Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) rules, Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, speed limiters, truck hacking and struggles over pay are among the myriad of concerns facing truck drivers, Overdrive reported.
  • In an open letter to President Trump, truck driver Clifford Petersen highlighted that a severe parking shortage interferes with drivers’ ability to meet the 14 hour rule, and ELDs should therefore build in flexibility to accommodate drivers’ attempts to safely ground their trucks.
  • Drivers like Petersen feel they are better represented by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) than the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which is more concerned with large carriers rather than with Independent Drivers, Petersen believes. 

Dive Insight:

Concern over the December 2017 ELD mandate is fueling speculation of a nationwide capacity crunch. Last-minute installation or an inability to afford the proper technology could potentially park thousands of vehicles, resulting in fewer trucks, slowed deliveries, and a major supply chain disruption.

Many drivers oppose the ELD, arguing that the cost of installation isn’t justified. A wide range of prices exist for different versions of the technology, running from $165 to $832 annually, the most widely used being $495 per truck. Meanwhile, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA) argues the rule will save $1.6 billion annually due to a reduction in paperwork, and $395 million in lower crash spending. 

However, many of these savings are not passed along to truckers. In fact, Petersen’s letter shows that for drivers, the cost of compliance does not stop at installation, but will add wasted time due to unforeseen side effects.

The problem that ELDs create is not inherent in the technology itself, but what happens when it is coupled with out-of-date regulation. HOS regulations mandate that truckers have a 14 hour, uninterrupted window to complete their haul. If the trucker is out of time, but due to the growing shortage of parking must move their truck, the ELD will track the movement and potentially violate the HOS, resulting in fines and possible termination. With truck driving turnover already as high as it is, structural turnover due to imprecise regulations only makes matters worse.

For such reasons, and more, a rate rise of as much as 10-20% could occur once the mandate comes into place, spiking shipping prices in 2018.

Filed Under: Freight Regulation
Top image credit: Richard Hurd

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