A new mandate is set to take effect for trucking companies this month, requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in every vehicle. And some truckers and business owners aren’t happy about the change, some even organizing ELD protests across the country. The concern seems especially of concern to small trucking firms because of the cost of compliance.
The devices are meant to ensure drivers maintain safe driving practices, monitoring time on the road and the speeds they drive. The mandate, which was actually passed four years ago, with the actual rules being finalized two years ago, is set to go into effect on December 18. But the government is also phasing in its enforcement efforts, so it won’t be fully enforced until April 1, 2018.
Opponents of the mandate say that ELDs can actually lead to more safety risks, causing drivers to speed through low speed areas to make up for any traffic jams or issues that cause them to slow down on highways. It could also lead to a loss of money for truckers and productivity for trucking businesses due to the strict rules about how long the vehicle must be parked between shifts. If the driver has to just move the truck a short distance during their rest time, for example, it could reset the clock.
However, not everyone is convinced that this is a negative for the industry. Brian Fielkow is the president and CEO of Jetco Delivery, a trucking company that has been using ELDs for years. While he acknowledges the upfront cost involved in adopting the technology can be a bigger deal for smaller trucking firms, he thinks that the safety benefits and improved productivity more than make up for it.
Fielkow said in an interview with Small Business Trends, “This is a regulation where everyone wins. It levels the playing field and makes sure that everyone is playing by the same set of rules.”
Though there are some costs involved in getting the devices in place and maintaining them, Fielkow likened it to regular truck maintenance and replacement of parts. Additionally, since the alternative to ELDs is keeping paper records, Fielkow says the improved productivity could more than make up for any cost involved.
Of course, anything that impacts the trucking industry could also impact any business that ships products across North America. Fielkow believes that the electronic logging system will lead to easier tracking and improved transparency, which will benefit ecommerce businesses especially. However, opponents of the change think the stricter rules could lead to higher shipping costs, due to the potential loss of driving times for truckers.