The ELD mandate became effective on December 18, 2017, almost seven months ago. However, even now not all the industry stakeholders fully understand how they should operate in the post-ELD world.

Much of the buzz focuses on the impact of the ELD mandate on truck drivers. What’s rarely talked about, however, are the effects of the ELD rule on shippers.

Why shippers should care about the ELD mandate

While truckers are already aware of the pros and cons of ELDs, some shippers are still unsure about tackling the ELD mandate.

The primary purpose of ELDs is to track a driver’s Hours of Service with pinpoint accuracy. This eliminates the possibility for drivers to drive more than their hours of service. Shippers need to understand how to make necessary adjustments to accommodate drivers in the post-ELD era where HOS records cannot be fudged.

Apart from the strict enforcement of Hours of Service, another issue that demands your attention as a shipper would be the detention time, the time a driver waits at a pick up location or point of delivery beyond the free time agreed upon.

According to a study by the Department of Transportation in 2015, U.S. truck drivers lose between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion a year due to detention time. The driver’s crash rate also increases by more than 6 percent for each 15-minute delay.

With electronic logs in the picture, shippers need to be more prudent with their drivers’ time.

Thanks to the built-in GPS sensor, breadcrumb location history, and HOS tracking features that most ELDs have, drivers are now equipped to provide irrefutable data on how long they were delayed at a loading dock.

What should shippers do?

The ELD mandate is about enforcing Hours of Service rules and increasing safety for everyone. This forces both truckers and shippers to take the possibility of violations more seriously, which can result in capacity limits, delayed delivery times, and higher rates.

Since freight demand is continuously rising and capacity is tight due to driver shortage and high driver turnover rates, smooth operations are beneficial for everyone.

The ELD mandate can be seen as an opportunity for shippers to identify which carriers are worth working with. Carriers who see ELDs as assets are more likely to have strategies to optimize their fleet’s efficiency using the technology.

Whenever possible, approach your carrier and propose to work together when it comes to issues that may cause delays. These include severe weather conditions, time schedules, traffic congestion, route optimizations, and so on.

If a carrier isn’t willing to discuss these matters with you, or if they seem oblivious to the importance of these factors in the post-ELD world, then you’re most likely better off working with other carriers.

Additionally, as a shipper, you also need to do your part in maximizing your drivers’ Hours of Service if you want to keep your costs down. One example is to prevent detention time using the following tips:

  • Contact and inform the warehouse beforehand regarding the free detention period
  • Keep your forklifts in good working order to properly and punctually load trucks
  • Have warehouse staff working in shifts to enable trucks to be loaded through lunch breaks
  • See to it that the load is ready to be shipped before booking the freight

Conclusion

Your goals as a shipper can be summarized into three things: optimize your loading process, have a more driver-friendly schedule and respect the rules that ELD solutions are designed to protect. Do all three, and you should have no problem keeping your business operations in high gear.