It Depends Who You Ask.
On December 16, 2015, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared that all drivers would be required to use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) to record their time spent driving on the job.
While the rule was announced quite some time ago, fleets have only recently been expected to be fully compliant since December of last year, when it became mandatory across the board. This new rule even affects drivers from Canada and Mexico who must comply with the law when driving within the US.
While hailed by safety experts as a positive change in the industry, ELDs haven’t exactly received the same response from drivers. According to a report from Business Insider, truckers feel their way of life is being threatened by the new mandate, with their schedule being completely turned upside-down.
In addition to the implementation of ELDs, truckers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours per day or work a total greater than 14 hours. Truckers are also required to take regular breaks in the middle of their shift. Many truckers feel that these rules are impractical as they spend much of their time idling in warehouses and waiting for loading and unloading.
These hours must be recorded as part of the 14 total work hours, although they aren’t spent driving. Many drivers claim that this cuts into their profits and causes them to drive faster to complete their deliveries on time before their shift comes to an end.
This has caused an outcry from truck driving associations and social media influencers on the internet, some of whom refer to ELDs as “Electronic Life-taking Devices”.
Opinions from Industry Leaders
Collin Mooney, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, says that the Hours of Service (HOS) rules actually haven’t changed a bit. According to Mooney, the only thing that has changed is that truckers are now being recorded electronically rather than with a paper and pen.
Industry leaders like Andrew Lynch, the co-founder of Zipline Logistics, believe that ELDs are actually keeping truckers more accountable when it comes to their logs.
“Drivers, in general, are covering fewer miles in a day than they were before the ELD mandate,” said Lynch. “The little cheats and fudges they could pull off on their log books before the mandate went live are no longer available to the large population of drivers that were running on paper logs.”
Many other leaders in the trucking industry agree with Lynch’s sentiments. In fact, a recent survey of over 150 trucking companies by Zipline Logistics showed that 60% of fleets feel that their safety has actually increased since the mandate.
When properly implemented, ELDs increase safety and keep drivers accountable. With accurate methods of measuring miles driven and hours worked, a driver can no longer avoid recording time spent waiting in warehouses and continuing to drive later. Drivers are forced to rest and take breaks and not keep driving to max out their hours at the cost of safety.
Although the implementation of the law may not be perfect, mandatory usage of ELDs has uncovered some surprising facts (and elicited some responses) about the behaviors of truck drivers. Knowing that many drivers never stop to get sleep but instead take naps while idling is quite shocking. This means that many drivers don’t get a good night’s rest and constantly drive drowsy or severely fatigued in order to max out their hours.
While it’s a little too early to draw any strong conclusions from the data, opinions remain strong regarding ELDs. On their own, ELDs are intended to improve driver safety and prevent reckless behaviors that could cost innocent lives. How the government implements HOS laws, on the other hand, is a completely different story.
Instead, we think that drivers’ opinions towards ELDs are mainly influenced by treatment from their employers, who are the first witnesses of a driving log. If drivers feel that they are being pressured to make dangerous decisions to complete their hauls, employers must also change their demands to meet new safety standards.
In our previous article, we listed some of the ways you can promote driver safety and implement safety devices in your fleet (that your drivers won’t hate).
As we gather more data on the impact of ELDs on the industry, laws will eventually have to be corrected to ensure that they are serving their true purpose. In the meantime, ELDs are still required by the law and will be for the foreseeable future. Not to mention, you’ll be smacked with a huge fine if any of your vehicles are not found to be compliant with the new law.
If you’d like to learn more about how FMCSA-compliant Dashcams and GPS solutions from Safety Track can protect your drivers and increase the efficiency of your fleet, visit our page.