Everyone is adapting to the new realities of the ELD mandate: the drivers, the supply chain, shippers and carriers, DOT inspectors - the list goes on. How does it affect you?
Driver opinion on ELDs has been all over the board
Clearly, it has been good for the bottom-of-the-list drivers who get all the tricky loads. With ELD in place, many drivers would report to their companies with a message, “I can take the load, but this will generate an HOS violation. Are you ok with that?” Therefore, with the ELD anti-coercion rules built in, drivers now have an avenue to turn to FMCSA, if being forced to take a load that cannot be delivered according to HOS rules.
Some drivers have reported problems with shippers, especially those associated with brokered loads. Many load brokers simply do not understand neither the old HOS rules, nor the impact of the new world with ELD. These shippers simply need to become a lot more efficient.
What we are all seeing is that after years of removing time from the supply chain, more time is needed to get the goods delivered according to the HOS rules. Time is clearly a significant dynamic that has become ever-more precious in today’s supply chain.
We are all living in this new reality. When we hear all the talk about the capacity crunch, what everyone is talking about is trucks and drivers… but one the thing we rarely talk about is capacity in terms of needing more time!
Over the years, all parties to the supply chain have been shaving time out of the equation. Either by forcing unreasonable delivery time, falsifying logs by drivers, or driving faster. I’m not saying that there was a widespread falsification of logs, but I think if you got stuck in traffic for 2 hours in Atlanta, you might only record 1 hour of it as on-duty driving time. There is no fudge factor with ELD anymore.
With ELD rule now in place, the supply chain stills wants to continue dumping that time on the weakest part of the supply chain – the driver – and it simply will not work anymore. Therefore, all stakeholders are going to have to look for ways to make timeframes within the supply chain more reasonable and more efficient, and that means better forecasting. Shippers are going to have to work with carriers in a more open and transparent fashion to be able to move goods.
I believe that ELD will eventually change the equation and give more power to the trucking company and the driver.
Another key point is that, with ELD, motor carriers now have the granular data to take to shippers and tell them that they need to change the way they ship and receive goods on behalf of motor carriers and their drivers.
Although many drivers are not fans of ELD’s, most are getting used to them. Some have learned that 15 minutes here or there can and will make the difference in getting home or having to sleep in the bunk.
As a former driver, I’m thinking that, likely, some are driving faster now, so you may want some form of asset tracking to validate this point or not.
Still other drivers are not hanging around the truck stops longer than need be. Only enough to find a reasonable space to park, have a bio break, grab a bite and be on your way down the road.
Some motor carriers, who have ELD, tell me devices on their trucks are getting more green lights at the weigh stations.
As a former DOT Inspector, I can attest to the fact that DOT will fish where they can land something. If compliant, DOT will likely move onto ELD exempt motor carriers, as the perception is that these carriers will falsify to get a competitive edge against compliant ELD carriers.
I used to get a lot of telephone calls from carriers advising me on non-complaint carriers breaking the rules that they were competing with.
One other observation particularly from my vantage point as Head of Safety, Compliance & Regulatory Affairs at Fleet Complete, I am fielding a significant surge in the number of HOS regulatory questions. I wonder if drivers really understand the granular nuances of hours-of-service rules.
Many drivers do not seem to take advantage of some of the flexible components in the regulation.
Using rules such as the adverse road conditions, yard moves, personal conveyance, and sleeper berth rules to break rest time up.
Shippers also do not seem to understand that being off duty does not stop the clock. It is like the sands of the hourglass. Once it is turned over, the sand will vacate the jar until empty. That is how the 14-hour rule works, and that is the new world for drivers.
Therefore, drivers and dispatchers need to plan better. They need to leverage all of the advanced features, inherent with the technology to help drivers remain compliant. Motor carriers and their customers need to be more flexible to leave more time for probable delays like weather and traffic, especially in congested truck lanes. Drivers need to annotate any adverse road conditions in transit to protect themselves and their motor carriers.
Long-haul drivers do not have the same issue as the short-haul drivers, where there is more possibility of something going wrong.
My hope in the end is that, by instituting the new ELD rulemaking, FMCSA will closely examine what is wrong with the current hours of service rules. Maybe we can get them fixed, finally, to the benefit from all the parties that oversee hours of service.
Overall, I believe when we look back on ELD five years down the road, the hope is many will say it was a short-term pain for the long-term gain!