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ELDs-Friend or Foe?

Dec 6, 2017

ELDs-Friend or Foe?

Well we’ve come to that time of year, The Holiday Season. This year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is giving the trucking industry a Christmas present with the implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). December 18, 2017 is the date of implementation for phase two of the program which makes it mandatory for all carriers operating in the United States to have ELDs installed and operational. You can view the implementation timeline here https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/implementation-timeline

Are ELD’S Friend or Foe?

There has been much discussion over ELDs whether they are good or bad and opinions change with every person I talk to on the subject. Many owner operators say they are bad, many drivers think they are good, and many just don’t understand. Some are afraid of the technology while others are afraid of losing money due to delays. So are ELDs friend or foe?

Here is why ELD’s might be a friend?

First realize that the ELD rule will be going ahead as planned and that won’t change. From all reports from those now using them, they like them for the most part. Many of the large carriers have already been using them for years and it makes the driver’s job easier. The drivers don’t have to fill in paperwork or calculate hours and so it makes their workload easier. With basic push button style operation much like a smart phone ELDs are fairly simple to use once some training has been completed.

ELDs track movement by the minute allowing real time tracking saving drivers time when doing small tasks like checking loads, fueling, and other activities that don’t require fifteen minutes of time. Those small increments of time can add up throughout a day possibly allowing you more time for more important activities.

One of the big benefits is the transparency of hours so that everyone from safety to dispatch to the driver know exactly how many hours are available for work and hopefully will be able to plan loads better.

Reports from industry friends show that in some cases ELD information has helped save drivers from fraudulent charges due to the accuracy of the information available through the systems. Managers and Safety Personnel can now get accurate information when working with drivers allowing them to focus on issues of importance and streamline safety programs and training.

So with all of these benefits to using ELDs what are the downsides?

Here is why ELDs might be foe?

The downsides of ELDs will depend greatly on who you talk to and the reasons behind it. First those that have been fudging their logbooks are the first set to argue the implementation. Of course that is the whole reason for the implementation by the FMCSA.

The second area that has people scared is the use of technology in general. With an older generation in the transportation industry many are still afraid of basic technology and can get frustrated easily with the devices. Once you can overcome this issue many will come on board.

The third issue is the cost of installation for carriers and owner operators. With tight profit margins in the industry finding funds for installation and equipment may be an issue for some. Having this mandated is adding extra pressure to those already lagging behind in profits.

So how do you handle all of the changes with ELDs?

The mandate is being implemented so if you were hoping for some sort of magic wand taking it away that won’t be happening. So how do you deal with the change? If you are a driver not comfortable with technology then instead of fighting it, embrace it and try to use it as much as possible. The more you use it the more comfortable you will be with it, ask for additional training if you need to. Do proper trip planning and that means planning out your stops for fuel, rest, and deliveries. There will be delays out of your control but if you do your part to trip plan properly you will go a long way to minimizing those delays. The regulations haven’t changed so you know the rules, it’s the technology.

Electronic Logging Devices will make the paperwork side of a driver’s job easier so that is a good thing. ELDs will improve accuracy showing your where delays are on the road allowing you to trip plan better or to get paid for customer delays and that’s a good thing. ELDs may also make Dispatch and other departments realize how much time they may be wasting allowing them to improve their efficiency as everyone will be able to see the hours of service, and that’s a good thing. My general feeling is that it will help the industry over time.

On another note I would like to take this time to wish you and your family all the best for the Holiday Season. May it be a wonderful time for you and your family. Happy Holidays.

About the Author

Bruce Outridge is an artist, author, consultant, and speaker. He is the host of the Lead Pedal Podcast, the Trucking Cartoons and Safety Content store, and industry entrepreneur. Bruce has been in the seat for over 25 years and in the industry for over 30 years. To learn more visit www.theleadpedalpodcast.com , www.truckingcartoonsandsafetycontent.com , or www.bruceoutridge.com