There has been much speculation on the upcoming electronic logging device (ELD) mandate that is to be implemented in December 2017. The discussion often heard is not about the benefit to safety even though that was how it was sold to Congress. The American Trucking Association (ATA) lobbied the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for ELDs based on the promise of safer highways.
However, compliance enforcement and keeping everyone on a level playing field is most likely the goal of the ATA.
That is understandable as smaller companies and independent truckers have not voluntarily embraced ELDs and subsequently can move freight farther and faster. But that is about to change in December 2017.
Pending Lawsuit to Stop ELDs
Before we predict the future of trucking and develop a course of action for shippers and logisticians alike, it would be clumsy to not mention the lawsuit that is standing in the way of implementation. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a lawsuit that can be read about here and should be decided by the end of 2016. OOIDA’s legal team has a history of challenging FMCSA overreach and winning – so stay tuned. OOIDA’s president recommended to members that they wait on the court decision before they purchase an ELD.
The Law of Supply and Demand
Now, assuming the ELD implementation goes into effect next December, there will be an immediate demand for more trucks as the supply will be reduced. How is the number of trucks reduced you wonder? There will still be the same amount of trucks on the road the day after ELD implementation as the day before.
But the amount of hours available to wait on the shipper, receiver and drive will be strictly enforced. There will be no more favors of putting in a few extra hours to get the load delivered a day early.
Some service times between a shipper and receiver may increase by an entire day if they were already borderline before mandatory ELDs. Paper log books are easily manipulated and some shippers and 3PLs have standardized the faster service times by expecting everyone to do it. A conversation with a 3PL agent sometimes sounds like this: “You can’t get this shipment 800 miles to destination next day? My other carriers do it all the time.”
Loading and Unloading Times Should Improve
The detention of trucks at shippers or consignees will have to improve. Either the load/unload times will be expedited or heavy detention rates will be charged in order to compensate for the lost driving time. Remember, every minute that a truck driver is on-duty will be more valuable because it will be precisely measured and regulated by ELDs.
In the past, some trucking companies have looked the other way as the dock delays cut into driving time.
Now, with strict compliance to hours of service regulations around the corner, trucking companies will no longer look the other way in order to save business, but will look to levy detention fees to shippers and receivers who unnecessarily borrow valuable driving time from a trucking company.