As co-owner of a small trucking company, I disagree with the universal mandatory implementation of ELDs, but not for any of the reasons that proponents of these devices would have you believe.
Some of the arguments being presented in favour of the law have created even stronger opposition, such as claims ‘Drivers abusing hours-of-service must be stopped,’ followed by ‘Use of ELDs will improve productivity.’ Which is it? If a driver is abusing their hours-of-service, slowing them down will hardly increase productivity. The use of ELDs isn’t foolproof in either case.
I respect the fact that large carriers may find ELDs beneficial. Long-term, there should be financial benefits – from the cost of paper logs to the clerical staff required to audit them – when large numbers of drivers are involved. If, after implementation, you discover a drastic change in individual productivity, you should review your screening/recruiting/training procedures.
Our company usually hauls to the same customer base, with relatively quick loading and unloading of freight. We rarely travel far enough for hours-of-service abuse to even be an option.
Such abuse would require deliberate effort; a ridiculous notion. With very few drivers, logbook auditing isn’t particularly time-intensive, yet still effective enough to monitor driver behaviour.
With everything from border times to fuel purchases accessible online, it’s quite easy to catch and deal with offenders. In recent years, this hasn’t been an issue for companies of any size. Drivers abusing hours are rare; drivers not using all available hours aren’t, giving credence to the popular assertion that some drivers may now be pushed beyond their personal limits.
I’ve spoken with drivers already using ELDs. Some of the less ambitious now manage their time in such a way to deliberately create delays at the shipper/receiver, so they will use all available hours earlier in the week.
Other drivers have told me they can move the truck around a yard for several hours without their ELD’s GPS registering any movement. So as long as the physical address has not changed or their duty status been manually updated, they don’t have to log the time on-duty.
For all these reasons, I resent bureaucrats legislating me into further unnecessary substantial expense with yet another one-size-fits-all law. The industry drastically needs improvement. Better training and testing will produce safer highways and greater productivity. Based on my dual role of driver/owner, I don’t believe that ELDs will.