“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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies