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The biggest risk of the ELD mandate isn’t what you think it is


“Day two of ELD use. I’m done…Sooo frustrating. Not planning on using it again until someone can tell me more on how this thing works. One video two days before I get my unit operational and I’m supposed to figure this out?”

The above was a post on a trucking Facebook page I follow. It resonated with me, because it highlights a major potential pitfall as the industry transitions to electronic logging devices (ELDs) to conform with the U.S. requirement coming this December. And this potential pitfall – drivers leaving the industry out of frustration – isn’t going to happen for the reasons that have most often been cited, such as an inability to make a living, or to get home before the clock runs out.

Most drivers who use ELDs, do come to like them. They reduce paperwork, require less time to complete, and make dispatchers, shippers, and fleet managers better value a driver’s drive time. From a driver’s perspective, there’s a lot to like about ELDs. I don’t anticipate longtime drivers exiting the industry en masse because they can’t adapt to an ELD environment.

However, there’s a caveat, alluded to in the above quote. If drivers aren’t given the proper training on ELDs and are expected to figure them out on their own, there could be disastrous consequences. And with the clock quickly counting down to the December deadline for implementation in the U.S., it’s alarming how many fleets have yet to comply.

Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said during our Surface Transportation Summit Oct. 11, that only an estimated 30-40% of carriers are now running ELDs. That’s a lot that aren’t, and with just two months remaining to comply if they plan to haul into the U.S.

Laskowski also noted there is a 12- to 18-month “transition period” fleets experience when they make the switch. That would include training – the type of training our frustrated driver above clearly did not receive.

There’s a lot to like about transitioning to ELDs. You won’t have to deal with cheaters who are egregiously violating hours-of-service rules in order to compete. Auditing logs will be simpler. Drivers will have more free time. And you’ll have concrete data to show shippers and receivers who waste drivers’ time.

But if fleets don’t roll this out properly and provide drivers with sufficient training, there will be frustration. There’ll be resignations. There’ll be fines for non-compliance. Sitting back and waiting till the eve of the regulation to source a vendor and flip the switch is a recipe for disaster. Assuming regulation-loathing Donald Trump will ride in at the 11th hour and delay or cancel this rule is an equally flawed strategy.

Fleets need to be working now to implement ELDs – and when they do so, to ensure drivers are given the training they need to make the adjustment. Reputable ELD providers will be eager to help with the deployment of the devices, including training drivers on how to use them. Don’t be afraid to get them involved.


James Menzies

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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6 Comments » for The biggest risk of the ELD mandate isn’t what you think it is
  1. Wally Blouin says:

    Hi James, I enjoyed reading this article on ELD. I am a retired driver but my Grandson is a driver so I am curious about something. I used to drive from Toronto to Stockton CA in about 98 hours. Will a driver be able to do the same using an ELD?

  2. Robert Allard says:

    Note …just to be safe after you got some sort of training keep looking at the ELD and follow the graph it tell you al:l how many hours you have to drive and how many minutes before that 1/2 hour brake and to the rest of the driving time remaining so plan your exit at least one hour before the end of driving time for that you need some planing and need to know where truck stops are and past 6 o’clock expect to sleep in the wilderness with no facility.
    I could only speak about it now that I am retired and keep inform on the trade that i love.

  3. Meh says:

    Why would it take 98 hours to get from Toronto to Stockton? Talk about not making any money….

    Anyhow, I’ve done both paper and elogs…..elogs are so simple to use. It does everything for one…let’s you know if you are about to go into violation and there is an edit feature if necessary.

    Dispatch can’t force deliveries with elogs BUT i have personally experienced a company who would’t allow their drivers to access the ‘personal conveyance’ feature and instead, only the safety department had access to that feature thereby giving a driver an extra hour or two as dispatch needed in order to just make a pick-up or delivery–but no time to get out from that spot and I remember spending a reset at a trailer drop yard with only a port a potty available. I’ve since learned this is highly illegal and am still considering dropping a word in the year of the MTO.

    Anyhow, it seems to me that some of the kaffuffle with e-logs for some is the ability to work a computer. With older, tech-illiterate drivers….yea, this will be a liability without proper, extensive, patient training or forcing those types into retirement earlier than they planned.

    At the end of the day…..bring on the e-logs!

  4. Jeremy says:

    Ah yes Stephen Laskowski …..those cheating truck drivers that actually have a work ethic, take pride in getting the job done efficently and like spending their time off at home with friends and family instead of a rest area. ELD’s are great for the lazy and dysfunctional large companies that are trying to level the playing field by imposing regulations across the board on the smaller, more efficently run companies to drag them down to the same level as their bloated organizations that have massive overhead and are willing to put anyone with a pulse behind the wheel. It also dismantles the language barrier for their newly landed work force pool that cant write, let alone speak the 2 main official languages of the continent…..being able read street signage has been optional the last bunch of years apparently anyway. Very few accidents are cause by drivers running over their log book hours, usually if its a fatigue issue it has to do with the driver being up for 12 hrs on personal time before they hop behind the wheel….which now in that scenario the ELD makes worse, because they are forced to drive tired or not…..there is no adjusting your book to fit the required nap You need in order to carry on alert and in full control of the vehicle. ELD’s should be an option…..not a mandate.

  5. john p, ret. says:

    well when you tell dispatch, you were just on time , and the customer complained you were late, your answer will be ! I did not invent this system I follow it, so if you don’t like it f .u, I quit… after they (dispatch) realise it there wrong and no body will run for them , they will wake up, and kiss ass,

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