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The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Controversy

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There's a group of carriers that pool data on MPG and other operating costs, they're averaging around 7 MPG with 2010 and newer trucks. That's with less than 80k#s average weights, but they're pulling van trailers which push more air around than a flatbed. There's also a group of carriers and OOs on facebook who are shooting for 9 MPG, some are already getting that and most are over 8 MPG. Their favored specs are a new Volvo or Freightliner with a low RPM engine like the MP7, automated direct drive transmission, super singles with a single drive axle, and every available aerodynamic option on both tractor and trailer.

An 80s truck, even one specced for fuel economy, will do around 5 to 6 MPG at the then current 55 MPH speed limit. Up the speed to the current 65 MPH limit and you'll be down to 4 to 5 MPG. The MH has good aerodynamics for an axle forward cabover, but unless you can convert that short BBC into more payload you'd be better off with a CX conventional. A tandem drive and 18 conventional tires will eat more MPG, so you'll be down around 5 MPG while your competitors will be slashing rates because they're getting 8 MPG. And sure, you've no complex emissions hardware to break, but having an MH only component like a windshield busted could put you out of business for weeks, unless you run local and have a stash of spares. Support for even common components on a 30+ year old truck is getting scarce, for example how many shops still have an old timer and the equipment to rebuild mechanical injection pumps?

So you're fighting a noble but quixotic battle, but ultimately a loosing one...

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Niche freight where you don't have to compete with the "big guys" is one of the few ways an owner operator can succeed! My friend has an older freightliner with a mercedes engine,hauls dry freight of all weights gets close to 8mpg average !

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Agreed- And why not take advantage of a cabover like the MH by specializing in urban trucking where it's maneuverability will be an advantage or adding a drom so you can haul more freight in the states that allow it? Or stretch the wheelbase and specialize in hauling long permit loads?

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21 hours ago, TeamsterGrrrl said:

The problem is one of incompatibility- UPS has an ELD system that fulfilled the legal logbook requirements and worked fine for decades. Instead of using UPS system as a model, DOT cranked out their own requirements.

Yep my company had a different elog system when I started here which was out dated much like ups system sounds like and we jumped to the latest and supposedly greatest elog so we could be in compliance. Again ups could do this rather than complain about how they will lose money. Welcome to the modern day of trucking ups. 

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On ‎4‎/‎29‎/‎2017 at 7:02 PM, TeamsterGrrrl said:

Most Social Workers work in government, and because the job generally requires at least a 4 year degree, they're well paid. Back in the 90s before Minnesota upped the prerequisites for licensure I could have gotten grandfathered in based on my having a 4 year degree with some social work and psych courses and experience working in social service agencies, and my social worker friends tried to talk me into it. Probably would have paid about the same as the Postal Service and similar benfits, so didn't make much difference that I stayed in trucking.

If you ever get stung by trucking you sound like you'd make one helluva bartender. Everybody needs a shrink. 

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The more people that tell me it can't be done only reinforces the validity of my decision. America is a great country and I am demonstrating the freedom that made this country great.

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Kenworth Assesses Ramifications of ELDs on Business

Transport Topics  /  July 26, 2017

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Kenworth Truck Co. looks at the potential effect of mandatory electronic logging devices on its business from the perspectives of truck production and valuation and fleet maintenance, company executives said.

The two things Kenworth hears most frequently regarding ELDs are: “How will [implementation] manifest itself from a true capacity [perspective] — both in [truck] volume and [driver] time — and the flow-on effect that it will potentially have on the used-truck market,” General Manager Mike Dozier said.

For instance, more truck owners choosing to quit the industry rather than use ELDs could increase used-truck volumes and dampen those prices, a situation that possibly could affect new truck sales as trade-in values fall, Dozier said.

Also, ELD implementation is important to Kenworth from a planning perspective, said Kevin Baney, assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “It’s about staying tuned in with customers. Whether it’s industry capacity or build, it’s more about planning [for us].”

Dozier and Baney spoke to reporters here prior to a ride and drive featuring the truck maker’s latest vocational vehicles, including dump trucks and mixers. Kenworth is a unit of Paccar Inc.

Baney added: “We have talked with fleets and customers about what their [truck] needs are going to be in the fourth quarter and then going into next year. We’re making sure we are ready to support whatever they need to do.”

Also, ELDs and the connected-truck efforts underway at Kenworth are closely related, Baney said, to the point where required repairs or maintenance could be scheduled and performed while the driver has to rest.

“We think combining connected-truck data with ELDs in providing the customers the best information that they can use to plan their business and logistics is absolutely required,” he said.

At the same time, Kenworth needs to be in the position of supporting whatever ELDs are available, from apps to tablets, Baney said. Whether ELDs ever become fully integrated in a truck cab is an ongoing discussion with all the ELD providers, he said.

It is important to provide flexibility within the truck cab in an environment of rapid technological change, he said.

“There is and will remain room for consolidation of technologies,” Dozier said. “It’s yet to be seen what is the right level of consolidation and integration of multiple technologies [in the cab].”

.

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Trucks with older engines exempt from ELD mandate, FMCSA says

Matt Cole, Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ)  /  July 28, 2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has posted new guidance for the electronic logging device mandate that exempts trucks equipped with model year 2000 engines and older from adhering to the mandate, regardless of the model year of the truck.

However, if a truck’s model year is older than 2000, but the engine model year is newer than 2000, the driver is still required to adhere to the ELD mandate.

FMCSA says in a freshly updated FAQ on its website that drivers are not required to carry documentation in the truck that confirms their engine’s model year, but notes that federal regulations require motor carriers to keep all documentation on motor and engine changes “at the principal place of business.”

During a roadside inspection, FMCSA says law enforcement should refer the case for further investigation if they can’t determine the model year of the engine.

This guidance deviates from FMCSA’s previous guidance, which emphasized the model year as determined by the VIN on a truck’s chassis.

Efforts have been made in Congress recently to delay the Dec. 18, 2017, compliance date for the ELD rule, but it will be difficult for such a bill to gain enough traction to be enacted, as CCJ reported this week.

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Doing the math on the ELD mandate

Sean Kilcarr, Fleet Owner  /  August 1, 2017

Talking about the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate these days is like opening up Pandora’s Box – a lot of negatives come screaming out, with the lid slammed shut before “hope” gets a chance to escape.

In the eyes of many within trucking, the ELD mandate is nothing but a burden – a significant extra cost that can’t be recouped via “savings” such as by jettisoning pencil and paper recordkeeping.

[Thing is, truck drivers must still keep paper logbooks close at hand as part of the mandate as a backup. So they are not truly going away. But that is a topic for another day.]

This issue is taking on greater significance right now not only because there are two separate legislative efforts in Congress right now aimed at delaying the ELD mandateneither of which is expected to succeed – but also because a significant number of trucking companies still haven’t complied with it.

Indeed, according to a recent survey we conducted, only 33.7% of the fleets we polled are currently “fully compliant” with the ELD mandate right now – and don’t forget, the mandate goes into effect Dec. 18 this year – while another 19.8% have a solution in hand and are in the process of implementing it.

That means just 53.5% of the fleets we’ve polled are ready for the rule, with the rest as-yet unprepared to comply with it. In fact, 11% of the fleets in our survey said they are NOT investigating how to comply with the mandate and thus won’t be ready when it goes into effect.

[We’ll be sharing more details from about our survey in the special ELD supplement we’re publishing in the September issue of Fleet Owner magazine.]

Again, though, one of the main reasons many motor carriers – large and small alike – are procrastinating on ELD adoption centers on the costs to do so.

For example, Ashley Cruz, a procurement research analyst with consulting firm IBISWorld recently addressed that point in a white paper entitled Easier, Safer and More Expensive: ELD Mandate to Increase Costs.

“The FMCSA [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] insists that ELDs will save trucking companies a collective $1.6 billion per year by limiting paperwork costs and enhancing fuel efficiency,” Cruz wrote.

“However, most carriers and independent operators claim that the mandate will increase their compliance costs,” Cruz stressed. “For example, Omnitracs estimates that new devices will cost carriers between $199 and $2,200 per truck, plus a monthly service fee of $20 to $60 per truck.”

That quickly adds up, Cruz warned, especially for large fleets. For a motor carrier operating 10,000 trucks, for example, the ELD service fee alone amounts to between $2.4 million and $7.2 million annually, not including the one-time costs associated with procuring and installing the ELD devices, which must be hard-wired into a truck’s engine.

“Owner-operators, [who] already generate razor-thin profit margins, often do not have the capital to purchase a new device outright,” Cruz pointed out. “Many ELD providers are offering a financing program for their products, but owner-operators only require one ELD each, and thus do not meet the quantity threshold to be given financing options.”

Moreover, Cruz said as owner-operators are often subcontracted by larger trucking companies, they do not have enough pricing power to increase their rates to cover the higher costs, he explained.

“Those drivers fear that electronic devices will allow their contracting companies to exert more pressure and take advantage of independent drivers,” Cruz emphasized. “This dynamic will likely exacerbate tensions that already exist between these two groups over whether full-time owner-operators should receive employment status and benefits.”

Jeremy Feucht, a regulatory analyst with Truckstop.com, argued recently that all of this “tension” should open up an opportunity for truckers (big and little both) to raise their freight rates.

Feucht posits that the average cost to ELD users will be roughly $25 to $30 per truck per month, with that cost varying depending on the “functionality, bells, and whistles” of said device.

“You should plan to raise your asking price by at least 1% per mile,” he said, which, according to current dry van freight rates, this would equal out to about 18 cents more per mile.

“This would increase your rate-per-mile to $2.03 or $1,017.50 per-load, on average and give you enough margin not only to offset the cost of the service but also any equipment you may need to purchase, in addition to the cost of training yourself and your employees,” Feucht stressed.

Yet can motor carriers and owner-operators obtain freight rate increases to offset the cost of ELDs? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it?

John Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research for Stifel Capital Markets, believes we may be turning a corner at the very least where freight rates for truckers are concerned – though it’s been a VERY slow turning.

“If you think back to last July, a year ago, this spot market began to tighten a little bit then; historically within six months contract rates usually respond by going up as well but this time around that model kind of broke down,” he explained during a presentation at the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) refrigerated division meeting back in mid July.

“Here we are 12 months after spot rates inflected and we’re not hearing a lot of shippers coming up to the bar with big time rate boosts,” he pointed out.

“Hopefully those are coming, no later than bid season in the first half of next year, but we just did a fairly comprehensive survey and are seeing a lot of contractual rate increases,” Larkin said. “Some carriers are getting some rate increases in some lanes; there’s always exceptions but know across the board increases are generally being granted. At least the rates aren’t going down any more, which is a good thing.”

That will be critical going forward as Larkin believes the point of no return has long been passed where the ELD mandate is concerned – despite ongoing efforts to derail it.

“There appears to be too much toothpaste out of the tube, as it were, to really put the toothpaste back in the tube,” he explained. “Come December 18th we’re going to be entering a new world. The reality is nobody knows what the impact is going to be because you can’t model individual behavior very well and you cannot get your arms around how each of the states is going to enforce ELD mandate.”

With that in mind, Larkin said the trucking and logistics industry will just have to “wait and see” what the final impact of the ELD rule will be.

“It could be as little as no impact; that’s the position that C.H. Robinson has, that the market always adjusts to these sorts of changes and people are blowing this too far out of proportion,” he noted.

“Then there are people who say, wait a minute here; it’s not just the reduced productivity of the carriers that are now cheating it’s also a good number of carriers who may not be able to operate economically without cheating,” Larkin pointed out. “I think what you have now is a lot of small carriers who have a natural cost disadvantage because they don’t have the purchasing economies and network efficiencies of a big carrier. They make it up by cheating; they drive too fast and too far every day.”

So if enforcement of the ELD mandate begins on or about Dec. 18 as expected and if the boom is lowered on those who don’t comply, Larkin suspects what has occurred over the years in the LTL sector will start to occur in the TL slice of the market: freight brokers and shippers will start dealing more with the larger motor carriers.

“The [big] carriers will figure out how to use the brokers to get better lane balance and to maximize their pricing and maximize the revenue puncture in more of a dynamic pricing than normal,” he said.

We’ll see if that prediction comes true.

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Talked to a trucker today that asked that I communicate to our congressman his opposition to the ELD rule. He's exempt with a 1999 tractor, but is worried that the carrier he is leased to will require ELDs. He runs regional, but is having problems with receivers that make him wait for hours to unload, burning up his on-duty time to the point he often runs out of hours before he can make it home. My congressman is a swing vote on delaying the implementation and I'll be seeing him and another swing vote on Thursday. I'll convey the message and my recommendation. While I hate to see the government enabling cheating on logs by delaying ELD implementation, I think we really need to give drivers some protection against shipper/receiver delays and assure adequate overnight truck parking before we implement ELDs.

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If we are regulated by the hour, we should be compensated by the hour. Mandatory detention pay would put the burden on shippers/receivers to increase efficiency. I have seen some large carriers already implement delay time after 1 hour instead of the customary 2 hours free.

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You're making a huge assumption that everyone that uses paper logs cheats. Guess all vehicles should be governed so no one can speed, people should be escorted by by police while shopping so they won't steal but it's nice to see since it's your friend who has the problem with ELD's now you'll try and vote against them since it hurts your friends bottom line. I think if you read above you'll see where we all had the same argument about ELD's hurting our wallets earlier. 

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I'm not dumb and know well how to cheat with paper logs, and have heard more than a few truckers even brag about doing so. The trucker in question is not my friend, he just stopped by while I was working an event and asked that I pass his message along to our congressman.

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No one said you're dumb but you don't seem to get the point of my last post so here's quick bullet points. 

•you assume that if truckers aren't regulated by an electronic nanny device that the Feds get to make all the laws on how hey operate we will break the law. 

•second topic is pointing out the hypocrisy of you now taking a personal interest in helping this trucker you personally met along in his fight against ELD's after time and time again YOU have crapped on all the other drivers on here when we have had the same complaints. Same as when you stuck up for UPS whining and not wanting to comply. Hope that clears it up. 

Edited by HeavyGunner

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Why do we refer to it as cheating, the law is flawed and people who use paper logs are only trying to produce a document to fulfill the needs of some paper pusher who has no idea of what's involved with running trucks or getting something from one part of the country to another, shippers/receivers should be held liable for detention, then maybe they wouldn't call for trucks 6 hours early, but then they (shippers) have learned that drivers (most) don't arrive on time, so they pad the pick up time hoping that the truck will arrive on time. My high school teacher would smile ear to ear at what a proficient creative writer I became, since I drive very little now I can make fun of the pathetic efforts of the DOT to catch me.  I never had to fix my book for more driving hours but more for taking care of the wasted hours caused by other people, Personally 8 hours behind the wheel is enough, the living in a box and sleeping in a bag is what I really don't like, motel every night is the way to go, if the freight rate does not allow that, don't haul it. or find a biz. where you can bill for nights out, escorts on oversize loads get motel pay and the driver sleeps with the load. We stay at motels every night and bill for it.(plus food)    

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So I took a load out of NJ yesterday, good money, broker asks " can you be on site in the morning at 6am?" No problem, I'd go early and beat the Baltimore MD traffic. Broker calls again this morning 7am to make sure I'm there. I cut my sleep short to be on site at 5:30am. What time does the crane operator start?!? 8am WTF. Here I am with Ol'Blue in front of M&T Ravens Stadium.3dff13c65b8bcf98c2f056a4c7222636.jpg

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45 minutes ago, Underdog said:

So I took a load out of NJ yesterday, good money, broker asks " can you be on site in the morning at 6am?" No problem, I'd go early and beat the Baltimore MD traffic. Broker calls again this morning 7am to make sure I'm there. I cut my sleep short to be on site at 5:30am. What time does the crane operator start?!? 8am WTF. Here I am with Ol'Blue in front of M&T Ravens Stadium.3dff13c65b8bcf98c2f056a4c7222636.jpg

Did you happen to catch the name of the sign company in Baltimore?

Oh, and don't ever trust one us signhangers to show up on time.

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Problem I see lately is our carrier taking afternoon loads that unload the following morning. Simple math along with some military time would save a lot of switching loads.  Yesterdays 00:01 load with 5 hours of drive time and a 10 hour doesn't work by 14:00 now does it? Pepsi seems to be having a issue getting loads moved during the afternoon and evening. I'm ready to try this ELD crap for the first quarter of 2018. There will be so much freight on docks that can't get hauled that rates and cooperation will be sky high. 

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I was working for NW sign, seems to be a Nation wide concern. The crane operator was on site at 6:15, but by the time he filed his lift plan and other safety paperwork it was 8:00 before we could start... I could have stayed in bed two more hours.

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15 hours ago, Underdog said:

If we are regulated by the hour, we should be compensated by the hour. Mandatory detention pay would put the burden on shippers/receivers to increase efficiency. I have seen some large carriers already implement delay time after 1 hour instead of the customary 2 hours free.

That is a very solid point and should be shared to these goons pushing for ELD.  I dont haul freight but if I did I would not put up with these shippers with the appointment crap.   Pay me for a days work be it sitting at a dock or rolling down the road....very simple and I dont know why drivers put up with that crap

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Had a minute to talk with Tim Walz (D-MN) and shared the trucker's opposition to the ELD mandate. He seemed sympathetic and will hopefully vote for a delay. Was trying to catch up with Colin Peterson (D-MN) when I saw the trucker again, so I pointed him in the direction of Congressman Peterson and let him deliver the message himself. Suffice to say, if democrats are willing to support a delay in ELD implementation, I suspect it will pass if it reaches the floor.

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Making ELDs pay in trucking

Sean Kilcarr, Fleet Owner  /  August 3, 2017

So obviously the talk continues apace within the industry regarding the possibility of delaying the still highly controversial electronic logging device (ELD) mandate via legislative action by Congress.

Right now, the betting is that this effort to delay the implementation of the mandate by two years isn’t going to fly – largely because, hello, Congress is the one that forced this mandate to be established to begin with.

“There is a lot of discussion going on and a lot of conversation going on,” noted Joseph Beacom, vice president and chief safety and operations officer for Landstar System, in the carrier’s second quarter earnings call.

“We're trying to get the guys [contracted owner-operators] to move towards implementation of ELDs by the deadline in December. We currently believe … the deadline is going to hold. We're confident that they will get them installed.”

Beacom noted, however, that the proposed legislative delay cited above coupled with a request from Congress for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to conduct a review of the mandate is creating what he dubbed “a little hesitation” in the industry.

“I do think there's been some speculation as to whether or not the deadline will hold and I think there's been some indecision based on that,” Beacom pointed out.

“[But] my opinion would be is that it probably doesn't [get delayed]. And I base that on the fact that it was Congress who asked them [FMCSA] to implement it,” he stressed. “So unless there's something that comes out as to trouble with enforcement or something along those lines, I would be hard pressed to think they would defer it further.”

Interestingly, Beacom pointed out that 20% or so of Landstar’s contracted owner-operators – whom the carrier calls “business capacity owners” or BCOs – haven’t installed ELDs as of yet and are doing so largely to avoid cost and “inconvenience” issues.

“It's not a fear factor. It's not a productivity issue, I don't believe,” he explained.

“It's just why incur the cost or the inconvenience before I have to. And so there's that deferring the decision. It isn't something that they're not willing to do," Beacom emphasized. "It's just more a factor of seeing it as there's plenty of time and hope and maybe there's this slight chance that it gets deferred. So why go through the expense and the hassle if it does, in fact, get delayed two years? It's more of that kind of mindset that we're hearing.”

Indeed, James Gattoni, Landstar’s CEO, noted on the call that BCO productivity this year has been better than it has been in the past two years – and that’s with 75% to 80% of Landstar’s BCOs using ELDs.  

“We have to go back to 2014 [as] the last time they were running the way they are running today,” he noted.

Thus it clearly seems this group of independents, at least, isn’t suffering too great a business impact from adopting ELDs. And that’s really the key to making the mandate work for truckers, according to Jason Goodrich, product manager of technology solutions at J.J Keller & Associates.

“Using is believing,” he told me. “The key is to how to find the proof in the pudding; where you can advantages by using ELDs.”

First, Goodrich stressed that there is cost of not being in compliance. For if and when the mandate goes into effect, if it is discovered that a motor carrier doesn’t have one during a roadside inspection, you can placed out of service – expensive downtime any trucker, large and small, can do without.

During a conference last year, Bill Quade, the FMCSA’s associate administrator for enforcement and program delivery, noted that there’s going to be very little wiggle room for truckers regarding ELDs. If a motor carrier is discovered without an ELD or issuing one deemed “non-compliant,” the agency plans to only provide an eight-day window from the time of the initial notice that they install compliant ELDs.

“But eight days isn’t much time to select, buy and install a new ELD, especially for a large fleet,” he noted. “The regulations, however, do contain provisions that allow for waivers, and FMCSA would take such circumstances into consideration.”

Yet rather than think solely about the possible “negatives” associated with ELDs, Keller’s Goodrich told me the key is look at the short- and long-term positives they can offer. And when he said “short-term” he pointedly meant costs savings, such as with fuel tax reporting.

“Think about it: with paper logbooks, you have to reconcile the log with paper fuel receipts,” Goodrich explained. “Many times receipts get lost over the course of a 600 mile length of haul, so you end up ‘guesstimating’ the right amount.”

With ELDs, however, now you have an exact mileage count. Marry that up to electronic receipts from a fuel card program and, presto, you have far more accurate fuel tax records. Goodrich said the return on that improved accuracy alone can pay for an ELD in a year or two. “We’ve had some customers gain a return [on fuel tax reporting] in a much shorter time frame, too,” he pointed out.

Then consider the reduction in time spent on the administrative needs of paper logbooks. “Think about a driver that’s making 20 stops in a day,” Goodrich emphasized. “That’s a lot of time spent noting duty status changes by hand. With an electronic log, that goes away.”

Finally, there’s the long-term to think about, especially in terms of recruiting a new generation of drivers – ones who’ve grown up in an electronics-based world.

“My grandfather was an OTR [over-the-road] driver, so mobile apps would never have worked for him,” Goodrich said. “But today, mobile apps make sense for the younger generation. They are ordering their groceries online, order Uber via their phones. They send texts; they don’t send letters. So setting up electronic technology to collect [logbook] data automatically appeals to them. This is part of what allows [carriers] to attract a new generation into trucking.”

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ELD makers frustrated with Congress, urge truckers not to wait until December deadline

Neil Abt, Fleet Owner  /  August 8, 2017

Makers of electronic logs are frustrated with the uncertainty surrounding the mandate created by recent congressional actions, and are cautioning truckers against waiting until last moment to select a device. 

They said costs for electronic logging devices (ELDs) have fallen sharply in recent years, and warned of a supply crunch for electronic components later this year.

The ELD mandate, scheduled for to take effect Dec. 18, requires most commercial drivers to use an electronic device to monitor hours of service. In June, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge from the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). 

Last month, a House committee attached a measure to a 2018 appropriations bill calling for additional review of “one of the most expensive of all transportation rulemakings.”

The companion bill in the Senate does not contain any language on ELDs. Also in July, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced a bill (H.R. 3282) that would delay the mandate two years.

With the House and Senate both in recess until Sept. 5, “we are not sure it is even possible by the time the mandate is supposed to take effect that they could get something done,” said Eric Witty, PeopleNet’s vice president of product management.

“It is business as usual for us,” said Tom Neppl, vice president of hardware solutions at Omnitracs. “We are proceeding as the Dec. 18 date will occur. Right now we don’t anticipate any change.”

Norm Ellis, president of ERoad, said fleets with between 10-50 trucks are the most likely to hesitate on ELD implementation.

“They can’t wait too much longer,” said Ellis, who recommends a four-to-six week transition period to allow the back office staff to undergo the “cultural change” that comes with ELD. 

In an e-mail to Fleet Owner, OOIDA spokeswoman Norita Taylor noted Babin’s bill has 38 co-sponsors. She also shared a letter of support sent to Babin signed by OOIDA and 13 other associations. 

“This is a massive unfunded mandate that provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits,” the letter stated.

Ellis said he has successfully tried to open a dialogue with ELD opponents including OOIDA. “They will stick to their guns until the last day I’m sure,” he suggested.

Ellis hopes that attitude will change next year, and OOIDA would consider endorsing devices to secure discounts and other assistance for its membership. 

With no delay imminent, the ELD executives expect a surge in demand, a situation Omnitracs’ Neppl warned could be complicated by a shortage of electronic components.   

 “These aren’t parts that sit on the shelf somewhere,” he said of the components needed for electronic logging devices. “I think it behooves the industry … to take into consideration the macroeconomics going on that could potentially drive some constraints on ELD solutions.” 

The result, PeopleNet’s Witty said, is that “fleets could end up being forced to adopt anything to be compliant. It could be whoever has something available, versus the preferred vendors they want to work with.” 

Truckers should consider it “too risky to wait and see if something changes,” said Bernie Kavanagh, general manager for North American Large Fleet at WEX Inc., which offers fuel cards, payment processing, and partners with telematics firms on ELDs. 

ERoad’s Ellis was forceful in his belief that overall costs have been inflated. The former Qualcomm and Omnitracs executive noted a steep price decline for technology and air time, allowing many low-cost options to enter the market.

As further evidence, Ellis pointed to the 60 percent of ERoad customers who are purchasing “value-added services” beyond just e-logs. 

PeopleNet’s Witty agreed cost estimates are based on data from years ago “and isn’t looking at the market today.” There are options with no upfront fees, and could be run with few additional costs beyond a trucker’s existing data plan, he said. 

ELD costs are more than recouped when factoring in safety benefits and efficiencies gained from less paperwork, WEX’s Kavanagh argued. 

ELD smartphone apps are cheaper options than products offered by the companies interviewed for this story. In ERoad’s case, an ELD-only option starts in the range of about 35 dollars a month. It is one of the few tethered options on the market, and the only one that has been publicly certified by the non-profit PIT Group.

Yves Provencher, PIT’s director of business and market development, said the company is working with other manufacturers that have asked not to be named. 

The certification process, similar to an accounting firm verifying financial statements, generally takes eight weeks and costs $32,000. It offers fleet owners confidence the device is working as intended, and will not become a liability in an accident, Provencher said.

He added while there are costs associated with the mandate, “if you are against it, it is probably because you are cheating.” 

There was agreement that compliance and enforcement challenges will remain after Dec. 18, and the executives said tweaks to the mandate are likely during 2018 and beyond.

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