Trucking Trends

By Mark Montague, DAT Solutions

April 1 marked the end of “soft enforcement” of the federal ELD rule, which requires most drivers who have to record their duty status to use an electronic device that automatically tracks driving time.

Operating without a legal and functional ELD in the cab after April 1 can result in an out-of-service violation and points on the carrier and driver’s CSA score.

There were concerns that the enforcement deadline might prompt carriers to leave the industry in droves. When the ELD rule went into force last December, truckload rates spiked as capacity tightened.

But a funny thing happened on the way to April 1: the vast majority of carriers that must comply with the rule seem to be doing so.

In a DAT survey of 645 carriers, 91% said they either run with an ELD (81%) or are exempt from the mandate (10%). It’s worth noting that owner-operators—small businesses that are heaviest hit by the cost to buy, install, and use ELDs—made up 93% of the survey respondents.

While most carriers say they are using ELDs, not all are happy about the mandate.

Among the carriers with ELDs, 67% said they drive fewer miles than they did before installing the devices, and 71% are making less money.

Drivers are having trouble finding parking especially when the ELD tells them they’re running out of legal driving hours and must stop and rest. Nearly 87% said it was “harder” or “much harder” to find parking since the ELD mandate took effect in December 2017.

Finally, shippers overall haven’t done enough to

mitigate delays during loading and unloading, according to the survey respondents. More than 77% of the carriers reported that their drivers are being detained for more than two hours on at least one out of five loads.

The search for safe, secure parking and delays and detention at loading docks can soak up valuable time. ELDs make these events transparent, whereas previously they could be edited away with paper logs.

Higher truckload rates and demand for capacity have been an incentive for carriers to install ELDs and keep on truckin’. But many are also more selective about who they work with and which routes they run. While the grace period may have ended for carriers and drivers, it’s also over for shippers who make it harder on truckers to get their work done within their allotted time.

Mark Montague is senior industry pricing analyst for DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT® network of load boards and RateView rate-analysis tool. He has applied his expertise to logistics, rates, and routing for more than 30 years. Mark is based in Portland, Ore.

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