Measures of how many truck drivers are ready to comply with the new electronic logging device mandate look to be about as divergent as political polls in recent elections.
With the new federal trucking rule going into effect this week, industry surveys and provider data show widely differing compliance estimates. The regulation requires truckers to install digital devices known as ELDS in their trucks to track the number of hours they spend behind the wheel.
The ELD mandate has been a contentious issue for the trucking industry.
The rule was enacted to ensure that all truckers comply with a federal hours-of-service rule. The rule limits driving to no more than 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday. Drivers must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
There are approximately 3.5 million truckers in the U.S., according to the American Trucking Associations.
Motor carrier and driver surveys suggest that larger carriers have installed the devices on their trucks prior to the Monday deadline. However, smaller carriers and independent truckers are not prepared. They were hoping for a last-minute delay in the rule taking effect by the Trump administration. It didn’t happen.
Approximately 75 percent of the 420 fleets surveyed by CarriersList and Kenco Group on Dec. 11 claimed to be ELD ready prior to the deadline.
That is up from less than 50 percent of carriers that said they were ELD ready in October, according to the survey.
However, an online survey by HELP Inc., the provider of PrePass weigh station bypass and technology services, found that of 1,620 respondents, 33 percent had selected and installed an ELD by early December.
Of those who have not installed an ELD, 68 percent said they did not plan to do so prior to Dec. 18, according to the survey, and 31 percent said they didn’t plan to install an ELD at all.
Some drivers, mainly independent truckers and small carriers, have threatened to leave the industry rather than switch to ELDs from paper logs. In the days leading up to implementation of the regulation, Republican Rep. Brian Babin of Texas urged Trump to issue a 90-day waiver from the regulation. He previously introduced HR 3282, a House bill to delay the deadline for two years. But the bill is parked in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. There’s no indication that it will move forward.
Around 50 percent of carriers surveyed by DAT Solutions said they planned to comply by the mandate’s deadline in late October. When asked if they were considering leaving the industry, 45 percent said they would see how the switch from paper logs affected their income before making a decision.
One ELD solutions provider estimates that about 80 percent of motor carriers were not yet compliant, and around 35 percent of that group had not begun to look at options yet in late October, according to Tom Reader, director of ELD marketing for J.J. Keller.
But J.J. Keller, as well as other ELD providers, have seen a surge in sales in December.
“Right now, we are seeing an increase in all facets — our orders and our technical support lines are up because everybody is scrambling,” Reader told Trucks.com. “We are hearing that many fleets are going to wait through the soft enforcement period before installing an ELD.”
While roadside enforcement is supposed to start issuing tickets to carriers not compliant on Dec. 18, they will not be blocked from operating until April 1, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, an agency charged with enforcing the ELD mandate.
ELD manufacturer Teletrac Navman estimates that between 70 percent to 80 percent are complying with the mandate.
“Of those not in compliance, most are smaller companies or independent truckers, who were hoping for a delay in the mandate,” Marco Encinas, product manager of global platforms at Teletrac Navman, told Trucks.com. “Everyone is making a last-ditch effort to cross the finish line — it’s a crazy time for everybody in the industry.”
These is also confusion about which ELD to purchase as there are more than 100 devices registered on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s self-certification website, said Deryk Powell, president of Velociti Inc., a technology deployment company headquartered in Riverside, Mo.
Powell estimates that between 50 and 70 percent of carriers, mainly small fleets, haven’t adopted an ELD prior to the mandate.
Velociti has about 300 mobile technicians that travel to its customers’ trucking yards to install ELDs. The company also provides support for the devices once they have been deployed.
“Business has remained steady throughout 2017,” Powell told Trucks.com. “We expect that pace will continue after Dec. 18.”
It is important for carriers to make sure they have a reliable device. If an ELD malfunctions, truck operators have only eight days to repair or replace the device or risk fines, Powell said.
There is also a fear that newer drivers in the industry, who have only used ELDs, may not know how to properly fill out paper logs if they experience an ELD failure, Powell said.
The estimated cost to implement ELDs is approximately $2 billion. The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually by keeping tired truckers off the road. Switching to electronic logs also is expected to eliminate more than $1.6 billion in paperwork costs for motor carriers and law enforcement agencies reviewing drivers’ logs, according to the FMCSA.