Truckers Aren’t Quitting Because of ELDs

October 26, 2017 by Michelle Rafter, @MichelleRafter

Little evidence exists that truckers are leaving the industry ahead of the Dec. 18 deadline for adopting electronic logging devices, according to a just-released comprehensive survey of carriers and owner-operators.

Although 30 percent of carriers say they would quit the business rather than comply with the federal ELD mandate, close to half say they plan to comply before the deadline or already have. The mandate requires truckers to install devices on their trucks that digitally track driving time to monitor driving hours.

Authorizations for new carriers, device sales, activity in the used truck market and other indicators don’t point to a mass exodus, according to new data from DAT Solutions.

“If there’s a race to the exit, there’s no evidence of it,” said Ken Harper, director of marketing for the load board and freight-rate aggregator.

DAT unveiled the results this week at its annual user meeting in Portland, Ore. The information was compiled from three separate surveys DAT conducted during the summer and early fall with 1,000 owner-operators and carriers with fleets of up to 250 trucks on its mailing list.

Some carriers, including many independent truckers, are vocal opponents of the new rule, which requires a direct connection between a semi-truck’s engine and the device. Regulators say such monitoring will force truckers to comply with a federal rule limiting them to driving no more than 11 hours a day.

However, a larger percentage of carriers are content to play along. Close to four in 10 (39 percent) carriers and owner-operators say they plan to comply with the mandate before the deadline, and another 9 percent already have, according to DAT. Another 9 percent plan to seek an exemption, 4 percent will look for work as a company driver, 4 percent haven’t decided what they will do and 5 percent report plans to take some other action.

what will truckers do when ELD mandate starts survey graph

(Source: DAT Solutions)

Many truckers contemplating leaving the business because of the mandate are taking a wait-and-see approach. When asked what they would do if they were considering leaving, 45 percent say they would see how ELDs affect their income before making a decision. That’s slightly more than the 38 percent of respondents who say they would immediately sell their truck and other assets. The remainder plan some other action, such as retiring or moving into the local-haul business.

Truckers’ willingness to work under the new mandate varies by age, with drivers 61 and older as likely to say they will leave rather than get an ELD as they are to say they’ll stay in the business, said Peggy Dorf, a DAT market analyst. By contrast, drivers in their 30s to 50s are twice as likely to say they are planning to stay with the industry and already had an ELD, she said.

Owner-operators and drivers with small trucking companies might talk about quitting, but the number of carriers with new Department of Transportation authorizations exceeded those leaving the business by 4 percent, according to 2017 DOT statistics that Harper shared.

If owner-operators or small carrier owners were getting out, they likely would be looking to sell assets to recoup their investment. However, the rolling average price for 4- to 5-year-old Class 8 trucks with 400,000 to 500,000 miles on the engines has dropped from around $70,000 in 2014 to under $50,000 today. “If you were trying to sell your truck you could be upside down if you owed money on it,” Dorf said.

If truckers were leaving they wouldn’t be buying ELDs. However, ELD sales are robust, according to anecdotal information collected from suppliers. One vendor that sells the devices to fleets with 20 to 200 trucks reported “hockey stick” sales growth, Dorf said.

Vendors expect strong sales to continue through the April 1, 2018, grace period, after which truckers who don’t have ELDs will receive so-called out-of-service violations and be forced to stop driving.

Of all respondents, “maybe a couple dozen” shared in written comments that they planned to take advantage of language in the law that exempts diesel engines built in or before 1999 from needing ELDs by retrofitting their truck with an older engine.

“But if you look at the cost of buying an ELD versus an older engine, it doesn’t pencil out,” Harper said. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates the devices cost about $500.

Unlike falling prices for newer used trucks, prices for 1999 and older vehicles have increased approximately 50 percent since 2016 to around $12,000. But any lower costs could be offset by potentially larger maintenance expenses, Dorf said.

The difference between how carriers say they will react to the regulation and their actions to date could be attributed to high emotion and denial that the mandate would take effect, Harper said. If you’ve worked in the industry for 10, 15 or 20 years and have assets and relationships, “you’re not going to throw it all out because you’re upset,” he said.

Drivers also are unlikely to leave the business while national average van rates are running above $2 per mile, near a multiyear high, according to DAT data. “For a trucker, these are good times,” Harper said.

While all signs point to the ELD mandate becoming a reality, it’s conceivable Congress could slip language delaying implementation into a year-end omnibus spending bill, said John Larkin, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp., who presented at the conference.

ELDs could exacerbate a driver shortage that Larkin described as the worst in 25 years, not because more people will quit rather than use the device but because they won’t be able to continue fudging the number of hours they work a day, and carriers will need more drivers to make up the difference.

“If the economy heats up, it could get even worse,” he said.

Large carriers that already have complied with the mandate have seen productivity drop 4 percent to 6 percent, according to DAT.

The drop could be even higher for other carriers, since the first wave to adopt ELDs were “good” carriers that didn’t have a high percentage of false logs to begin with, said John Seidl, a consultant and former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspector. Carriers that are waiting until the last minute include some of the worst false-log offenders, and they could see productivity rates drop even more, Seidl said.

If each driver at a company with 20 trucks can gain three hours a week by fudging, that’s 60 hours week, the equivalent of an additional driver.

“That adds up pretty fast,” Seidl said.

Read next: Truck Driver Crunch Could Send Wages Skyward

34 Responses

  1. TomT

    This is nothing but spin as far as I am concerned. Lets look at the figures here. The survey was from a thousand O/Os and small carriers??? There are somewhere around three million drivers with CDLs and from the survey almost 40% are still have not complied while there are those who are taking a wait and see attitude which translated means they are hoping for congress to put a stop to this nonsense. Lets be real, anyone who has driven a truck for any amount of time with mileage based compensation knows full that an eleven hour time frame means absolutely nothing without the flexibility of breaks and sleeper time meaning with a E Log there is no room for flexibility when your time counts towards the fourteen hour day from the beginning to end, all time and delays cut into your driving time which is how they make they are compensated and so any and all delays are going to severely reduce compensation and with insurance rates and road taxes and fuel going up with no end in sight, this is a loosing proposition and any trucker with a calculator can figure that out in a New York minute. There is no rush for the door at the moment, it takes time to find another way to make a living and wind down an investment and business not to mention local work is not all it is cranked up to be plus there is only so much to go around. Positive spin might work well for technology sales but once all this goes into full compliant mode more than a few surprises and driver-less trucks are in store.

    • Derek Cook

      Not only, not complied. But quit! As of 03/28/18, handed in my keys and comdata card. Cleaned the rig out, and left.

      • Roy

        My wife and I no longer drive otr. 6/8/2012 I sleep walked using cpap and had a seizure trying to be complaint with cpap. We had over 20 years driving and we each have 2 million safe driving awards. I’m now on total disability. The cpap device makes me sick. So I do not use device. Glad I don’t have to deal with the new rules. I used to enjoy driving OTR.

  2. TomT

    ELDs are a lawyers dream come true. Between them and driver facing cameras there won`t be a trucking company in America who won`t be vulnerable. A guy or gal fresh out of law school without any courtroom experience could have a field day with access to ELDs, on board driver facing cameras, cell phone records. They better start pushing for much higher mandatory insurance limits for trucking companies because it is going to be open season on trucking companies and owner operators when all this becomes mandatory even with the best lawyers, legal costs for all this are going to be astronomical. Keep on lobbying.

  3. Michelle Rafter

    I’m aware that it’s a 1,000-response survey for a population of 3.5 million truckers, however, the responses are statistically significant, according to DAT, and I’m not aware of other polls on ELDs with a larger respondent group. If you know of any, please contact the staff so we can consider following up. According to DAT, the company’s data researchers plan to continue surveying on the topic so it’s conceivable they could publish additional results if and when the mandate takes effect.

  4. Butch

    They keep talking about driver shortage. There is no driver shortage. However, there is a shortage of drivers will to work for minimum wage or less, when you figure their time.

  5. Brian S.

    On 19 Dec there will be 2 groups of people who are electronically monitored.
    1.Convicted criminals who wear ankle monitors.
    2. Truckdrivers.

    • Monica

      You are right.
      Its sad
      Wish everyone understand its not about running outlaw its about our rights our freedom of choice.

  6. Paul Bazydlo

    A quote from the Article:

    “The drop could be even higher for other carriers, since the first wave to adopt ELDs were “good” carriers that didn’t have a high percentage of false logs to begin with, said John Seidl, a consultant and former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspector. Carriers that are waiting until the last minute include some of the worst false-log offenders, and they could see productivity rates drop even more, Seidl said”.

    Sorry Mr. Seidl but please tell your lies elsewhere. I do not appreciate your insinuation that those still against ELDs and holding out are the bad Actors just wanting to fudge their logbooks to create more revenue. You know some of us are actually just really against unelected bureaucrats like yourself trampling our Constitutional Rights! Did you ever just stop to consider that? No, of course you didn’t. It doesn’t fit your narrative.

    In the article it clearly states that Large Carriers saw a drop in revenue of 4% to 6%. If these large carriers were such “Good Actors” to begin with then they would have saw no drop in revenue whatsoever!

    I’m a single truck Independent home almost nightly. I bid only regional freight that assures that I can run legally. I do not have a dispatcher trying to coerce me into falsifying my log book.

    The log books original implementation was to keep carriers from forcing employees to run extreme amounts of hours. I have no such pressures placed on myself.

    In reality, the large carriers use the ELD to ring every last minute of a drivers productivity out of their day. They are still obviously cheating as you can see screenshot after screenshot on the internet referring to the fact they will change a drivers duty status to gain the driver some more productivity time for the day.

    No Mr. Seidl, I am against the mandate because I do not believe Unelected Bureaucrats such as yourself should be allowed to implement policy that denies me my Constitutional Rights! Why, if I have a clean safety record, am I being tracked like a common criminal? Maybe that is the reason for many Independent Truckers stance against the ELD and not the obvious rhetoric you and your agency have been lobbied to spew Mr Seidl.

    I have yet to purchase a an ELD as I am waiting to see if Congressman Babin’s house bill HR3282 comes to fruition. I have sold one trailer and am currently only renting a trailer to help facilitate the speed at which I can leave the industry in December, if I so choose. And no when / if I leave, I will not be going to drive for another carrier on ELDs.

    Mr. Seidl, in closing please answer this. If the ELD Mandate and ultimately the HOS Regulations are so well thought out and written, is your agency having to hand out exemptions like candy? The HOS Regulations as written are unsafe. They do not allow experienced Independent Trucks the ability to use the common sense and good judgement they have earned from years and decades behind the wheel.

    • Paul Bazydlo

      The last paragraph should read Independent Truckers and not Independent Trucks.

  7. Richard Slater

    You can’t make a man into a robot. The decision to stop should be up to the driver not some device please kill the Eld Mandate before it kills more people

  8. Tony

    Sold my Trailer 3 weeks ago. Selling my truck now. Had a buyer that runs 7 trucks that was going to come up and look at the truck, he called to cancel. Said the driver that was going to be running the truck he was buying from me is quiting because he didn’t want to deal with the whole ELD thing.

    I would say your numbers ate less than scientific. I know many many more drivers besides myself, as an owner op, saying, ” to hell with you SOBs”

    I’ve been driving 14 years running paper logs and driving when I want to drive and sleeping when I’m tired. I have an impeccable safety record and a clean DMV. Your rules are idiotic serve absolutely no purpose. It’s not about safety… If you wanted safety you’d pay a driver a median salary. Company’s advertise what their top paid drivers make when recruiting. If they know that, something tells me they know what their lowest paid drivers earn. Find a median salary, pay the driver that. Give him STACKABLE bonuses for consistent safe driving record. 3months, 6months, 12months, 18months, 24months, 30months, 36months.

    If he has an incident/accident, use a driver review board to determine the seriousness of the accident /incident and remove one, two, three of those bonuses. Make the driver work his way through SAFE DRIVING back to top pay. That’s how you get safety on the road. Remove the incentive to drive when you are tired. A salaried driver is a safe driver.

    Anything else is just a dog an poney show and you are all a bunch of fools to believe a word these people have to say.

  9. Jim Bardsley

    There are several reasons not related to Hours Of Service for this to be delayed or repealed. First, NO specific unit has been endorsed or certified by the enforcing agency. NONE. They are all self certified by the makers. Several of the units on the list, will not be fully compliant after 18 dec, due to obvious flaws. But the FMCSA leaves them in place. Why?
    Second, none of these units to my knowledge, have undergone any testing at all for long term functionality, saftey of use, or build quality. I’m supposed to take a device, with less testing than a toaster and plug it into a 100,000 dollar Kenworth? Sire, I’ll get right on that.
    Besides, not one truck manufacturer has built in a protocol for constant two way communication through the Diagnostic port to the ecm. In gact, many state right in the owners manuals that plugging a device such as a tuner or ” other unapproved device” into that port, long yerm violates the warranty. Do you know of any ELD devices that are approved by the truck makers? I don’t. However, I can show you several trucks locally that have fried or damaged the ECM using these untested, unapproved devices. As well as several hundred that keep dpitting out ” ghost codes ” for non existent malfunctions, only when the ELD is plugged in.These are the unintended consequences that this mandate is bringing about. It going to be yet another failed rollout from an agency with a history of such. Except this time, it will cause honest, hardworking folks their livelyhood, through technological failures, and a lack of knowledge on the part of the regulators, about the devices they are mandating.
    All in the name of “saftey”. No one, but the ATA, and various saftey groups think this is a good thing. And just so you know, ATA is NOT the authoritive voice they pretend to be. Research it yourself, theh represent only 20% of the industry. They are a government lobbying organization, no more, no less. They represent the biggest names in trucking, with the worst saftey records in trucking. Coincedence? I think not.

  10. TomT

    A more comprehensive and quantitative report complete with polls could be ascertained from OOIDA, an organization with close to two hundred thousand members where O/Os, small carriers and drivers are regularly polled on trucking related issues. I think you will find a very different perspective on ELDs as well as the push and lobbying for speed limiters etc., with far different polling outcomes than DAT can represent that include greater numbers of those most effected by all this. There are very few success stories as it is with most of them centered on specialized contracts that do not have the threat of cut throat competition or require specific geographical locations or specialized equipment which would not necessarily be affected by ELDs.

  11. Scott

    I am going to be honest but seriously this article is overly biased and in many cases filled with a bunch of inaccuracies. It never falls to amaze me how little research is done these days by self proclaimed journalists.

    To offer a small bit of rebuttle, any real driver knows the challenges of making it happen in the confinds of legal operations but the real issie behind eLogs; actual term the vast majority of the industry utilizes, is the renewed lack of reasonable understanding of the actual laws and/or rules behind these devices.

    Michelle I plead with you to do a bit of research on these ” good ” carriers because if you do you’ll see why your name is going in as one of the many around this debate who shows a high lack of journalistic integrity.

    Werner, Swift, Crete, Prime, Scheinder, CR England, JB Hunt, CRST, US Xpress and so many more. Paticularly with Werner Enterprises out of Omaha, NE they were one of the originals forced back in 1999 due to safety issues and yet they are still one of the biggest big three worst.

    • John holt

      SCOTT,You are so right on when it comes to this big joke of the big carriers and you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Werner aka”WE EMPLOY RETARDS NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED “as I used to drive for them 5years ago,I drove with my brother back in the late 70s for several years then got out because I became a father and went into the remodeling business with my father but due to economy crash in 07 I had to get back in trucking and had to to school to get my cdls back and with no recordable experience I had to choose a big carrier I chose Werner because they had a terminal close by my house , my experience with them was a complete joke they fill those newbie drivers with so much crap it’s not even funny,and half the loads you pick up are already late for delivery as far as elogs go they’re a joke too I’ve had several loads that were expressed to me that HAD TO GET THERE ON TIME NO MATTER WHAT,I’ve called dispatch to tell them I wasn’t gonna get there on time due to running out of hours, dispatch would put me on hold and low and behold my hours of service on my elog would be CUT OFF and they would come back on the phone and tell me to get it there and for me to call dispatch when I arrived at cosignee,so you can see if you want elogs manipulated it can be done , I left there in 2013 to drive for a better company with better pay and NO ELOGS my stress level was so high when I drove for them because I had to watch the clock every freakin minute of the day and when I left they and went to work for company I’m with now, my stress level all but went away, but now with this eld mandate looming I To are going to get out of this business because I don’t wanna go through that elog nightmare again.I honestly believe that all these drivers that actually like elogs undoubtedly have never had the opportunity to run paper logs because if they did they wouldn’t ever think about running on a elogs

  12. Randy

    Dear FMCSA,
    Over 80% of car/truck accidents are caused by cars. So if your really concerned about safety, why don’t you impose HOS rules for car drivers?

    • TomT

      Simple answer, not the whole answer of course but a start, re-election campaign costs, lobbyists, follow the money. You know if you actually stop and think about all this, as a truck driver you are vulnerable to every hungry state and local municipality strapped for revenue and most of them are, between here and wherever your headed to loaded or empty. Did you ever see the Federal regulation book they use to find something wrong with your truck? It must be two thousand pages long and after ELDs become mandatory they will have a new and unlimited source of revenue while yours is dwindling to paying money just for the privilege of running a business that will barely turn a profit. This is one of the very few industries that are not regulated by federal labor laws where the drivers have fewer rights than convicted felons. Fourth Amendment? forget about it. What constitution?

  13. Bob

    I will be putting in my two weeks notice on Dec 4 2017. I have been pulled over randomly 3 times in 7 days and been inspected(passed all 3) I am tired of feeling like a criminal and being harrased. #eld is not safer, in fact I found myself getting in a hurry way more than when I’m on paper, causing me to make more mistakes because that clock is staring me in the face. The industry is already a mess, this will only make it worse. I won’t miss trucking one bit. Good riddens.

    • TomT

      Law of averages states that eventually they will stop you and find something and when they do it will go on your CDL nationwide Federal record and once it does it is there forever. No other drivers license has the stipulation that what is written on the ticket and what you are charged with is what goes on your record no matter what state your stopped in or what the violation means in that state. No deals and even if they cut a break it still goes on your record as originally charged. Hows that for equal protection under the law? and try and find employment after a couple of trumped up charges which could you hundreds of dollars to fight. Not only are the states and local jurisdictions making money off cash cow truckers but the doctors and cpack (sleep apnea) farce, another government invention to make life difficult, along with national registration and banks of medical records and doctors forget about privacy your not entitled to it, truck drivers don`t have a chance. If your one of the lucky ones who have so far gone unscathed by all this, stand by it`s coming your way sooner than later. All this aggravation for what, $52000.00 a year for working 80 hours a week or $ 32,000.00 a year after expenses and deductions with the possibility you will probably get audited. Forget about it. ELDs are just one more nail in the coffin your already in.

  14. fredx10x

    First I Would like tell everyone out there that we are Feeding all animals That is Attacking truck drivers today,And second we are not your mama or daddy’s dogs to be monitored Like prisoners.It is hard as it is to be a truck driver and to keep America alive. If you don’t have no respect for the people that is keeping your stupid Brain Alive And keeping all the animals That don’t Understand the trucking business Then we need to teach every monkey a lesson they will not forget ever. We need to go on strike and show all Americans who is running the Country because most of the people are stupid and they don’t have a clue.

  15. fredx10x

    Government are jealous of Truck drivers because we are better And bigger than they are And we are the real heroes And we could shut them all down All at the same time big or small .We are the Untouchables and today we are being touched by every sleazy dog out there. Heroes that we are but we don’t need There stinking Gold or Silver medallion The only thing we need for them to keep their stinking hands off of us So we can keep Americans and America living .They need to keep every stinking wild dog on every highway to stop chasing us So we could enjoy what we are doing for America. If you want to improve safety You need to Give all Americans 15 Sample questions About big trucks before they get their Drivers license So they can Understand trucks Because there’s To many animals out there that don’t understand trucks And that is what’s causing all the Accidents. but The government are scared to come up with a Law Like that Because there are bunch of sissies and the only think they could do is Attack truck drivers.

  16. Joe Icaza

    LIES LIES LIES AND MORE LIES!!!! Load boards have all the trash loads, and especially DAT, most of my friends and some family members are truckers and so far half are out of trucking happy at home every night. If market it’s so good, why do big companies and brokers ripoff drivers with cheap pay? ELD its just another financial strategy for big companies.!! Drivers have a lot of expenses over the road and now half the parking lot on truckstops you pay to park!! Trucking is not worth it anymore… 3 days and I’m out.

  17. Greg

    I can’t believe that in a country they call free they the government, know when I can drive my truck that I’m paying for maybe they should pay for it then, that way they can tell me what to do I think after 38 yrs with no accidents I know when it safe to drive or not as far this being cheaper the unit cost around 700.00 dollars 23.00 dollars a month ,log book only cost 4.00 dollars a month do the math somebody is getting rich and it’s not us I think all the truck drivers should just go on vacation on Dec 18 for a week then let see what the government does when everything stops the way I see it everything really on us turning our wheels

  18. Barry

    I think that if truck driver has to have eld’s then so should air line pilot’s that have to keep hours of service as well

  19. jason

    funny thing is, the companies with the worst accident history’s , are the big carriers such as , swift , j.b. hunt, ect. and these companies have already been on elds for years , so that proves eld’s will not make trucks safer. Drivers better trained , by more experienced drivers, make safer trucks.

  20. John holt


  21. Roger Luenebrink

    29 years and this beets the cake. your a cash cow all ways have been lets send a message to uncle Sam . and lets park the trucks and see how moves first. stand together drivers or stand alone… and lets tell old uncle were not going to comply. let the big companies screw things up . and see how they fix it Men lets pull together and show them?????????????? u in..

  22. Brian Schroeder

    Please contact President Trump to demand he issue an executive order to delay the ELD mandate. He promised to stop costly regulations. Well this moronic unnecessary regulation fits the bill. If President Trump lied about the regulations you know he’s lying about the “tiny hands bit too”. Conact him at

  23. Tyler

    Me and the 100 drivers at my employer are all done on dec.18th. We cant run elogs because we work for different company’s every day driving different trucks with several types of systems. They dont interface with each other so a paper log book is the only way to keep records. Cdl a driver from Albany N.Y.

  24. Stephen webster

    Many truck drivers in Canada are leaving cross border trucking this spring when have customers like Wal-Mart who hold you up instill you are out of hours and do not allow you to park 6 or 7 hours ahead of your appointment time. I have been towed twice off a Wal-Mart lot after making a delivery both time got the State Police involved. I REFUSED to pay the tow bill as I was not able to drive legally. Truck driver pay today is less than a teachers pay or policeman pay by the hour in Canada. Many truck drivers are doing construction or working as fireman making $30. Per hour or more


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