Lately, there have been rumors circulating on how the trucking industry is going to be in shambles because of the soon-to-be-implemented ELD mandate.
In fact, some rumors even go so far as saying that there will be a “mass exodus” of truck drivers once the mandate takes effect from December 18, 2017. However, the current employment trends and statistics that were obtained from the industry seem to show the exact opposite of what the rumors are saying.
These trends are based on how truck drivers responded to previous regulatory changes over the past few years and are also based on the recent employment growth of the trucking industry in light of the upcoming ELD mandate.
To get an accurate picture, let’s take a look at what history says on how the trucking industry adapted to previous regulatory changes that happened over the past few years.
More than that, let’s also take a look at what the experts are saying on where the industry currently stands with the ELD mandate.
What does the history say?
Here’s the thing: The ELD mandate is not the first wide-scale regulation in the trucking industry.
Earlier, truckers used to be heavily burdened because of having to adapt to several new regulations on vehicle diesel emissions being raised by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The rise and enforcement of these regulations could be traced back to the 1980s.
Another memorable regulatory change that shifted the landscape of the trucking industry involved the most recent update to the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.
This change, which was enacted last 2013, contained the following restrictions:
- Drivers are only given a maximum time limit of 14 hours to be on duty
- Operators can only drive for a maximum of 11 hours per day
- After the 11-hour time limit expires, drivers are then required to take a 10-hour break
- Truck drivers can drive for a maximum of up to eight consecutive hours before having to take a mandatory break that lasts 30 minutes
- Any delays that would occur at the ports, docks, and loading stations of shippers and receivers would be counted against the operator’s 14-hour on-duty time limit
However, despite all the challenges that came with regulatory changes over the years, truckers still kept driving.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 1.6 million truck drivers operating when the HOS rule was implemented in 2013.
Within the same year, this number increased to 1.63 million drivers and even kept increasing throughout the years, reaching about 1.7 million by 2016.
Based on this trend, the number of drivers employed in the United States only keep getting bigger and bigger despite the changing trucking regulations.
What are the experts saying?
Noël Perry, an analyst from FTR Transportation Intelligence, believes that the upcoming ELD mandate is not going to be the reason truckers leave their jobs and disrupt the entire industry.
In his own words, he said:
“In none of these cases was there a major effect on transportation.…There is no evidence whatsoever that truckers have left the industry because of regulations.”
Perry believes that operators who decide to leave the trucking field will easily be replaced by others who believe that they can earn a decent living in the industry.
Despite the positive attitude toward the upcoming implementation deadline of the ELD mandate, Perry, however, still doesn’t discount the possibility of a temporary adjustment period that he expects to take place after December 18, 2017.
He estimates that the trucking industry would need to hire about 60,000 additional drivers after the ELD implementation date.
He also predicts that this adjustment period could last for up to six months “where rates could go almost anywhere.”
According to Perry:
“There is some chance that there will be some rough times until the industry adjusts.”
However, despite the seemingly rough transition period, he is certain that:
“There is no evidence whatsoever that the industry has ever or will hit up against some absolute limit that causes things to fall apart because of a change in regulation. It’s never happened.”
In fact, Perry believes that the implementation of the ELD mandate would actually be more beneficial to the trucking industry in the long run. With the use of ELDs, Perry believes that truckers would finally have the opportunity to put a stop to some of the malpractices in the industry and actually earn what they rightfully deserve.
He justifies this by saying:
“A computerized record of productivity of every move could prove profitable. Now, truckers have a record of delays at docks or certain freight lanes that aren’t making money.”
With these records, drivers could go to shippers and either ask them to remove delays or give detention pay.
“They can pull up their ELD logs and march into their customers and say, ‘I can’t survive this.’”
A change of perspective is in order
There are a lot of people in the trucking industry who have been placing the ELD mandate under a bad light. One of the most common complaints that drivers have against ELDs is that these devices are restrictive because they closely monitor and record driving time and HOS compliance.
In response to this, however, Bill Sullivan, the ATA’s (American Trucking Association) executive vice president for advocacy, said in a letter to the FMCSA:
“At the end of the day, I believe the implicit reason opponents of electronic logging oppose this regulation is because they intend to cheat on their hours of service.…Arguments against the ELD mandate are arguments in favor of violating the hours of service rules.”
Sullivan believes that the real reason why some people are angry with the mandate is that they have issues with the 2013 HOS rules and not with the implementation of ELDs itself.
“If the hours of service rules are believed to be inappropriately limiting, that is a policy debate I’m sure the agency can address. Suggesting that it is overly burdensome to use an electronic device to log compliance with hours of service rules that don’t change whatsoever in December is a false argument.”
In fact, ELDs provide nothing but dozens of benefits to drivers who use these devices on a regular basis.
Sullivan mentions some of these benefits in the letter by saying:
“…ELDs save drivers’ time by lifting the burden of 15-20 minutes spent manually calculating and recording their hours of service, reduce HOS violations by eliminating the numerous so-called ‘form and manner’ violations, and increase compliance with hours of service rules.”
Aside from these points, following are some other benefits that your fleets can get by using ELDs:
- Streamlined communication between truck drivers and fleet managers
- IFTA fuel tax reports being generated within minutes
- Reduced fuel wastage
- Improved vehicle diagnostics and maintenance
- Lesser administrative burden and paperwork
- Fewer accidents and roadside problems due to maintenance issues
- Fleet monitoring and management systems
- Driver performance correction and improvement
Once you start using electronic logging devices, you realize that there are, in fact, a lot more benefits.
Another complaint that motor carriers and operators have over complying with the ELD mandate is that the devices are often too costly for them.
This is often a common misconception in the industry.
While there definitely are ELD providers who charge outrageous fees, there are also some ELD providers, like Motive, who charge far less.
To learn more, see what features the Motive fleet management solution offers. If you have any questions, call 844-325-9230 or email at email@example.com.