The Contentious Reality of ELDs


The reality of ELDs

As December 18th, 2017 approaches you’ve probably been flooded with articles, blogs, and social media posts touting the benefits of ELDs. Not to absolve ourselves of this, we have plenty of articles (here, here and here) regarding the benefits fleet managers can reap from ELD implementation. But, we are not blind to the extra costs and stress that go along with ELD implementation.

What Are Some of The Main Concerns

Vox recently published a great video, looking at the potential impacts ELDs may have on the trucking industry and the public at large. For those who would rather not watch, we’ve addressed some of the key points below.

The FMCSA is Concerned About Safety

As easy as it is to rationalize the FMCSA’s ELD mandate, as being a punishment to truck drivers or as a “big brother” initiative. The reality is that the FMCSA is concerned first and foremost about safety, that of the truckers as well as that of the general public with whom they share the roads. The alarming statistic that most likely spurred the mandates proposal is the increase in the likelihood of an accident when people drive tired. As seen below, after 10 hours of driving without an 8-hour break, the likelihood of a crash due to fatigue increases from 5% to 10% and exponentially increases after that, going all the way to 25% if driving for 17 hours without rest.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Trucking fleets that have implemented ELDs have reported a reduction in total crash rate by 11.7% and reducing the preventable crash rate by 5.1%. Now are these stats enough to justify the potential negatives ELDs may come with? Let’s take a look at the criticisms:

Driving Tired

The FMCSA cites tired driving as the main reason for ELD implementation. The logic is simple, force drivers to spend at least 10 hours on break, where hopefully they will sleep. But after taking a closer look this is where the logic falls apart.

  • Firstly, ELDs don’t take into account context. Meaning if a driver is only 10 minutes away from their destination but is stuck in construction traffic and runs out of time. They will be legally required to stop and wait the 10 hours even though their house is within eyesight.
  • Second, forcing drivers to drive in this type of schedule pigeonholes them into working when they might not necessarily be prepared to, or when the conditions are not optimal. Because the driving window is theoretically smaller, that forces the drivers to drive even though they may not be ready, or the road conditions might not be conducive to efficient traveling. Thus making their work inefficient at best, and dangerous at worst.

ELDs Don’t Fit The Pay Structure 

The main concern is that drivers get paid by the mile, not by the hour. While ELDs track the number of hours worked. The relationship between these two systems is often a contentious one. Because there are uncontrollable outside factors that can impact the amount of time it takes to drive from point A to point B.

For simplicity sake imagine a 20-mile delivery. If a truck is traveling at an average speed of 60mph, that would take roughly 20 minutes. Well, what happens when there’s a snowstorm and everyone slows down to 20mph? That 20 minute delivery time now jumped to over 60 minutes. This is a problem because the truck driver is making the same amount of money as if it was only a 20-minute drive. Thus severally reducing the number of jobs a trucker can take, which reduces the number of miles driven, which reduces the amount of money they make.  Another common scenario is when a driver is feeling under the weather. Since the daily hours don’t carry over if the driver takes a day off because it would be unsafe to drive. Then he completely loses a day and can’t make up the miles later due to the ELD regulations.

Context Is For Kings

The key word to consider is; context. Do ELDs work in the dynamic environment that is the trucking industry? Are the benefits worth the costs? Only time will tell.

At Titan GPS, we are aware of the pressure ELDs place on truckers and fleet managers. That’s why we set out to provide an ELD solution that is not only capable of tracking and recording HOS records, but one that is also capable of paying for itself by reducing costs, and creating opportunities for improved efficiencies. Paired with our excellent customer service, we will constantly work with you to ensure your fleet is fully compliant and operating at peak efficiency.

We Can Help You Prepare For The Transition To ELDs