The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate was part of a larger bill, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” in the United States Congress passed in 2012, which included a requirement that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) develop a rule mandating electronic logging devices. In December of 2015, the FMCSA issued their final ELD rule, which requires fleets to replace paper logs with electronic logs.
Fleets had until December 2017 to comply with the rule, which assist the drivers to maintain accurate hours of service (HOS). Fleets that already had ELDs in their trucks prior to December 2017, had until the December 2019 to make sure they were complying.
The main issue fleets saw was an increase in costs, adding a device to each vehicle cuts into the revenue for companies. Depending on the fleet size, that cost could hamper the growth of some trucking companies. Another concern is with the ELD companies themselves, with so many devices being offered, how many of them will last?
Sterling Oil, provides transportation of bulk liquid chemical and petroleum products, opted to use Roadlog as their ELD provider following countless hours of research, talking with experts and industry associations. They felt that company was the best bang for their buck with limited upfront costs and no monthly fees. But less than a year later, the parent company Continental Automotive Systems closed Roadlog. Ryder Truck, the parent company of the devices they purchased to use Roadlog, also shuttered their device business. These companies realized it was not in their best interest to continue to be in the ELD market. With those closures, it left owner/operators scrambling for another ELD provider.
When these companies shuttered their ELD services, it forced Sterling to move to another company, My20 ELD. The closure meant that the devices could not be returned, that move cost them money as they needed to invest in the hardware coupled with ensuring their drivers had the proper wireless devices to use the service. Larger carriers may have an easier time finding ELD options as they will receive discounts based on their fleet sizes, but how does that effect the small owner/operators?
The question is, how often will these ELD businesses continue to fail, forcing trucking companies to continue to alter their ELD devices? The answer is, we do not know. Most companies offer three-year contracts, like My20 ELD. However, owner/operators are worried that they will have to continue to change providers, purchase new hardware, and add monthly costs as these ELD companies cannot draw enough business to stay afloat. With so many options in the market, they are concerned these companies flooded the market and may not last their contract.
At the end of the day, the ELD mandate has made owner/operators, truck drivers, and dispatch less safe and not as efficient as the claims say. The drivers are older, many are not technologically savvy, causing great concern for themselves as they now must learn how to use touchscreens, tablets, or smartphones. They are mandated to use these devices, so they are going to be a learning curve for the tools they are using for tracking HOS and mileage. The increase cost and unreliability of the ELD suppliers, shows the ELD mandate makes the act of doing business in the industry much more difficult for small businesses.