The trucking industry is now preparing for Phase 3 of the Electronic Logging Device legislation that began the implementation process on February 16, 2015. The legislation to better control hours-of-service reporting was set to phase in after the final ELD rules were published in December of 2015 with a compliance date of December 2017.
Allowing for Awareness and Education
During Phase 1, the industry saw little impact as paper logs and logging software were still considered acceptable. However, Phase 2, which commenced in December of last year, has produced some challenges. This is because the acceptable logging techniques were reduced to electronic logging devices and paper logs were totally eliminated.
Reports from the field indicate a significant level of leniency from law enforcement during this transition due to the technology integration curve. The acceptable ELDs are self-certified, but they must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The movement to the requirement for ELD control of HOS reporting has generated numerous questions and implementation issues. In response, the FMCSA has been active in providing training for operators, law enforcement agencies, and drivers. It maintains a continuously updated FAQ page on its website and provided additional training materials.
The ELD mandate has already made a significant impact on the transportation industry and many project further changes as the December 2019 final implementation date approaches. Many drivers originally threatened to leave the industry, but the total of U.S. truckers has increased slightly to 1.47 million as of February of this year. In fact, younger drivers starting a driving career prefer being digital and accept ELD as the norm.
The stricter observance of HOS requirements is projected to also:
*Create more inefficiencies. Many drivers already using ELDs report getting in fewer hours and many brokers are asking for more two-driver teams to keep goods on schedule. Some drivers report that routes they can handle in one-day trips are now two-day turnarounds.
*Higher demand for freight and higher rates. The net effect of less driver hour capacity is creating growing concerns over lower system capacity. With a strong economy, this situation is already impacting rates. For example, the spot market is showing a 20 to 30 percent jump over last year’s quotes, coming in at $2.14 to $2.50 per mile. The ELD mandate will also level the playing field as it pushes out firms that didn’t comply with HOS constraints.
*Shipper responsiveness is increasing. Delays at the dock are not as easy to hide as with paper logs and many shippers are moving to more efficient processes, including pre-staging loads.
DOT has focused on the hours-of-service issue for years and the ELD rule is making stringent enforcement more achievable. As the 13,000 enforcement officials in the U.S. become more comfortable with the new ELD devices and rules, they are expected to rigorously apply the HOS standards.
The path to December 2019 has not been smooth, but it is on track to take the industry to a new driver and regulatory environment.