IBISWorld, a firm that specializes in market research and analysis, recently released a report suggesting that owner-operators are having a hard time transitioning to ELDs, as required by the ELD mandate.
The firm estimates that a huge portion of the 3.5 million trucks that are affected by the ELD mandate still haven’t obtained and installed the required devices yet.
These analysts believe that operators are reluctant in securing ELDs ahead of the implementation deadline because the price of ELDs is too high for their reach.
The challenges for owner-operators
Based on the report published by IBISWorld, a lot of owner-operators are earning just enough to make ends meet. Many of them don’t have enough capital to buy an ELD device to comply with the electronic logging device mandate.
With some ELD providers charging high prices, many owner-operators are forced to pay more to stay compliant with the mandate.
Another concern that owner-operators have is that they can’t just raise their charges or service fees to deal with the increased compliance cost demanded by the mandate. The trucking industry operates in price-based competition and is sensitive to changes.
Any attempts to raise service fees above competitor rates, to compensate for ELD compliance costs, can result in meaningful losses for small businesses.
Industry trends and consequences
As mentioned in the report, a lot of owner-operators still haven’t fully equipped their fleets with the mandated devices. These individuals are still hoping that the ELD mandate would either be delayed or repealed.
However, based on what has been happening recently with regard to the mandate, it seems more probable that the ELD mandate would be implemented as scheduled — on December 18, 2017.
Just recently in June, the Supreme Court thwarted all attempts to have the mandate repealed. Also, a bill that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives, which sought to extend the ELD mandate’s deadline, has yet to be approved. The Senate DOT bill also skipped any changes related to the ELD mandate.
These are all signs that point toward the implementation of the ELD mandate by the end of this year.
Many online articles also argue that it is very unlikely for the bill to be successfully approved by both chambers of Congress and signed by President Trump before the deadline, especially since the compliance date of the ELD mandate is only less than four months away.
A change of perception is in order
While there are naysayers about the ELD mandate, there are many good things to be said about the device and its potential usage.
For one thing, these devices help drivers avoid unwanted road accidents and fatalities by helping them stay safe on the road. The FMCSA established the ELD mandate as a means of reducing the number of road accidents involving a commercial motor vehicle.
Some of the common factors that often cause accidents, and even fatalities on the road, include driver fatigue, lack of attention, and speeding, factors which are addressed by the implementation of the ELD mandate.
As stated in the report, the FMCSA estimates that approximately, on average, 3,500 vehicle accident fatalities happen every year that involves a large bus or truck. The ELD mandate is a means by which the FMCSA tackles the problem of lowering the accident and fatality count by ensuring that drivers are well-rested and alert while on the road, and ensuring that drivers are not coerced into driving more than they are supposed to. Fatigued driving is, of course, one of the biggest reasons for road accidents.
Also, the report mentioned that FMCSA estimates that a collective of $1.6 billion dollars will be saved by trucking companies each year due to lesser paperwork and improved fuel efficiency.
Of course, these are just some of the many benefits that ELDs can bring to the table.
If you look into the extensive features that ELDs have, you’ll notice immediately how there are several other ways that trucking companies, including owner-operators, can benefit from using ELDs.
Here are some of the other ELD benefits that are worth mentioning:
- Reduced fuel wastage
- Improved communication between drivers and fleet managers
- Fewer hours-of-service violations
- Avoid hefty fees associated with getting roadside penalties
- Reduced paperwork and administrative burden
- Generate IFTA fuel tax reports in minutes
- Improved vehicle maintenance
- Avoid road accidents due to truck maintenance issues
And much more.
Are all ELDs really costly?
A common misconception that some truckers have about ELDs is having one would cost them an arm and a leg.
Sadly, these misconceptions aren’t unfounded.
There are, in fact, some ELD providers who charge large fees. However, there are some ELD providers who charge far less.