The December 18th deadline for compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) new ELD mandate has been a long time coming. First passed by Congress five years ago, the rule has been legislated and litigated as one group or another has sought to delay or dismiss it.
Yet, we are now just weeks away from an industry-wide rejection of an outdated paper system and embrace of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). It’s a move that should go a long way toward preventing drivers and carriers from misrepresenting time behind the wheel that runs the risk of sleep-deprived drivers making deadly mistakes on our nation’s highways. A 2014 FMCSA study showed that carriers who already had ELDs in place saw a 50 percent reduction in HOS violations and almost a 12 percent reduction in crash rates.
But safety isn’t the only positive to the new ELD mandate. There are several other key benefits to trucking that will make this long awaited industry upgrade worth it:
ELDs Will Create a More Competitive Marketplace for Freight Carriers
There’s no denying that there are some dishonest carriers out there, ones who have made violating HOS rules part of their business model—creating an unfair advantage over carriers who operate by the book. By eliminating the ability to cook their logbooks, the ELD mandate puts everyone on a level playing field.
New Technologies Can Make the Difference between Thriving and Simply Surviving
The adoption of ELDs is not just about the level of HOS compliance; for the driver and the carrier can both save time, simplify record keeping and provide a new level of data analysis—all of which can lead to better business decisions and new opportunities for optimization. Eric Lien, a senior vice president at Arrive Logistics, says it should make a lot of businesses start adhering to “best practices” such as re-examining optimal routes, having flexibility around drops and hooks, and staffing appropriately—all of which lead to better efficiency.
ELDs Could Lead to Sloppy Shippers Shaping Up
Surveys of early adopters of ELD technology have shown that data collected can shine a bright light on shippers who aren’t running a shipshape business. Research by DAT Solutions states that as much as 63 percent of carriers find that their drivers spend more than three hours at docks waiting to unload or unload. By highlighting downtime in real time, ELDs could incentivize slower shippers to improve service before carriers move on to the competition.
Right now, the biggest obstacle for the changeover could be people’s opinions. One recent survey of shippers and logistics providers estimates that more than 20 percent of them have yet to prepare for the looming mandate. What many of these companies need to realize is that ELDs are the future… and, like the future, it’s not a question of what’s coming or when it will arrive—only whether or not you’ll be prepared.
Michael Leizerman is a truck accident attorney specializing in catastrophic multi-axle collisions. He understands all facets of truck accident litigation; including federal regulations, drug and alcohol testing and hours of service requirements. He has authored a treatise entitled Litigating Truck Accident Cases and often educates other attorneys on trucking laws and regulations. You can learn more about Leizerman & Associates by visiting their website, www.truckaccidents.com.
Michael Jay Leizerman is the managing partner at EJ Leizerman & Associates, LLC, Toledo, OH. He is a frequent lecturer who teaches other attorneys how to handle truck accident cases across the country.