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What You Should Know About the New ELD Mandate 

The US trucking industry is fast approaching December 18, 2017 when enforcement of a significant new regulation goes into effect. The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate will require drivers to begin recording their hours of service (HOS) on electronic devices instead of the paper logs they have used since the 1930’s. Let’s examine how the ELD mandate may impact the trucking industry and your supply chain.

What is the ELD Mandate?What you should know about the new ELD Mandate

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 

The electronic logging device (ELD) rule – congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21 – is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.

The FMCSA timeline indicates the rule will be brought into effect in stages. Phase 2 is the beginning of the two-year period between December 18, 2017 and December 16, 2019. During this time enforcement of the regulation will begin and carriers and drivers subject to the rule must install and implement one of two options to comply with the ELD Mandate:  

  • Automated onboard recorders (AOBRDS) that were installed prior to December 18, 2017
  • Self-certified ELD equipment from a list of vendors that are registered with FMCSA 

While the mandate officially begins December 18, the FMCSA has established a 90-day grace period for enforcement. During the period from December 18 until April 1, drivers who are not compliant with the new regulation will receive a citation and the violation will not count against company safety records. However, after April 1, 2017, full enforcement, including citation and safety violations will commence.

So what does this mean for truckers?

In short, a great deal. Proponents of the ELD program have long advocated for the move away from paper logs because they are easy to falsify. Trucks equipped with an ELD will make it more difficult for drivers to stay on the road longer than the hours of service allowed under FMCSA guidelines. Enforcement of existing regulation is expected to be easier with the aid of electronic devices.

In fact, one of the biggest arguments in favor of ELD’s is improving driver safety. Falsification of paper logs makes it possible for drivers to stay in service for a longer period of time between rest breaks. A practice that leads to driver fatigue and an increased risk of accidents. An estimated 1,844 truck crashes per year are expected to be eliminated if trucks are equipped with ELD’s.

The trucking industry has expressed concerns about the ELD Mandate. New regulations represent a costly investment in ELD equipment and recurring monitoring fees from software providers. For many drivers it comes down to their bottom line. More miles in service on the road equal greater pay and stricter HOS enforcement through the ELD mandate could mean a negative short-term impact on driver incomes.

What can shippers expect?

Many industry analyst are anticipating additional increases in trucking spot rates that have already spiked in the last half of 2017. The overall impact of the ELD mandate goes beyond an initial trickle-down effect as the costs to equip trucks are passed on to shippers. There is real concern that some drivers will simply leave the industry all together; further compounding the possibility of a truck capacity shortage as we go into 2018. As the US economy improves and the surge in ecommerce continues, shippers should prepare to see further increases in rates along with capacity shortages. Some drayage companies have already indicated they will implement an ELD surcharge and it is likely that more will follow.

How can you mitigate the potential impact to your supply chain?

As a shipper, you can do your part to mitigate the potential impact of the ELD mandate on your supply chain by taking steps to avoid situations that delay drivers. This means having paperwork in order upon pick up or delivery and making sure loading processes are in place to accommodate the same. Driver wait times are a part of your overall trucking expense. Some best practices you can implement include:

  • Make sure the load is ready at pickup time
  • Be flexible around drop and hooks
  • Maintain appropriate staff during shipping and receiving hours
  • Provide adequate parking and other facilities

Major regulatory changes can have a significant impact across an industry and the ELD Mandate is one of these major changes. Shippers should take note that as the ELD Mandate is implemented, the potential impact on the US trucking industry is real. We will certainly monitor events over the next several months and will report any significant developments as they occur.  

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