If you’re a driver, you’ve undoubtedly been aware of this pending development for some time now. Others in the transportation and logistics industries may not have felt the need to know the details when the ELD was just future or theoretical. But now it’s here.
What Are Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)?
For those unfamiliar with the term, ELDs are small digital data-recording devices that plug into trucks and travel with them down the road. They record an impressive amount of data, data that will power a whole new world of visualization and logistics problem solving for companies. These devices also monitor driving and resting times with the goal of keeping drivers well-rested and roads safer.
Implementation Is Starting Now
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance reports that beginning December 17, 2019, the FMCSA’s final ruling goes into effect, and all motor carriers must begin using an ELD. Before this date, some drivers were allowed to continue using automatic onboard recording devices in place of the newer ELD technology. But now every driver must begin using an ELD.
And it’s important to understand that everyone means everyone. No extensions, no “soft enforcement.” If you or one of your drivers gets caught without an ELD, the driver will be declared out of service for 10 hours.
A Mixed Reception
Because the electronic logging device rollout has been staggered, we already have some understanding of how the new tech and regulations are being received. The responses are mixed. On the one hand, many safety groups laud the change as much-needed reform in an industry that could undoubtedly be considered high-risk. Indeed, when accidents happen involving trucks, the potential for damage (and property loss) is high.
On the other, drivers are frustrated by the limitations of the new tech, and some are reporting reduced income opportunities.
Expected Industry Impacts
With such differing opinions, it can be hard for businesses to determine the real impact of ELDs. Allow us to help you cut through the noise and see what’s coming.
Improved Efficiency Through Data
With the universal implementation of ELDs, there is a great promise in the data and analytics space. We don’t need to tell you that there are plenty of inefficiencies in the transportation industry. You see it regularly yourself when a driver arrives with a load but without any more legal hours of service.
All that waiting around isn’t good for you, and it’s not ideal for drivers either. The data captured by ELDs can help to solve these sorts of inefficiencies. We are poised for a future where distribution centers and other freight receivers can know a driver’s remaining legal hours of service in real-time before the driver arrives.
New Ways of Analyzing Data
ELDs generate a staggering amount of data. The potential that logistics companies have to learn from this data is significant, but so is the possibility of drowning in the data. If you’re analyzing what data you’re getting now with a manual process, you’ll need a new way to analyze data. You may even need to partner with an analytics firm to build a mechanism for processing and understanding this data.
But on the other hand, most drivers don’t like the restrictiveness of the new tech, and some report that their earnings potential is reduced because of it. With paper logbooks, there were certain ways to fudge the data and get more drivable hours out of a day. But drivers can’t cheat their ELDs. When they reach the end of their hours of service, they have to stop, end of the story. So drivers are complaining about lower earnings potential. Of course, much of that lost potential was accomplished by skirting the rules—but not all of it.
Some drivers have complained that this new inflexibility pushes more drivers to stop at the same time, filling up parking areas beyond capacity. If you’re out of hours, but there’s nowhere to stop safely, what’s a driver to do?
Counterintuitive Questions of Safety
There’s also an anecdotal concern being raised about safety. This is counterintuitive, as the whole point of ELDs was to increase driver alertness (and thus safety). But because drivers are paid by the mile and now feel more time constraints, some of them are driving faster to make up for the “lost time.” This increased speed can put drivers and others at risk.
Though there are understandable concerns and frustrations from drivers and others, ELDs are likely here to stay. The data and insights that logistics companies can gather from ELDs hold great promise, as well. Inefficiencies throughout the logistics chain will be solved over time thanks to this new source of data.his is counterintuitive, as the whole point of ELDs was to increase driver alertness (and thus safety). But because drivers are paid by the mile and now feel more time constraints, some of them are driving faster to make up for the “lost time.” This increased speed can put drivers and others at risk.