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May jobs report shows trucking industry stability despite ELD mandate speculation

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics May unemployment numbers showed relative overall health for the transportation sector, gaining 3,600 jobs. The trucking sector’s numbers were almost static, having lost just 100 jobs. But don’t let those stats lull you into complacency. There are transformative changes coming very soon, and they’ll have a significant impact on every aspect of the trucking business. 

We’re talking about the ELD mandate, of course, which will be the law on December 18th— just six months from now. Larger carriers are already transitioning their fleets from paper to electronic driver logs (ELDs). Smaller carriers, however, feel they’ll be more adversely impacted. 

Media reports and online forums are full of owner-operators and drivers expressing concerns over lost capacity, even threatening to shut down or leave driving entirely the day the mandate goes into effect. Maybe that’s just hyperbole. Change is difficult and there is always a period of uncertainty before accepted norms are disrupted. 

Regardless of the current debate, the mandate is coming. A last-ditch effort to have the Supreme Court block ELDs failed just last week. It’s time to embrace the new normal, and focus on the benefits of ELDs. A solution that includes fleet management features beyond compliance has distinct advantages for carriers, not the least of which includes leveling the playing field for smaller companies. Here are a few reasons why ELDs should be embraced by your business: 

  • Efficiencies & cost-savings – even the bare minimum of HOS compliance delivers time-and cost-savings. One customer told us, "Our drivers don’t want to go back to paper logs because the tablet takes care of practically all their work." The safety advantages can lower insurance premiums and eliminate hefty violation costs, too. But the key to using ELDs to drive business gains is to go beyond basic compliance. GPS fleet tracking data, paired with ELDs, gives dispatchers the power to make good decisions about which drivers are assigned to which jobs, minimize fuel use and idling and build driver coaching programs.  
  • Rising rates – higher rates are good for fleet operators, provided they’re a result of good practices and not wildly out of balance with shippers’ needs. The ELD mandate should have a chilling effect on outfits that fudge logs to gain drive time, which pushes rates lower and favors bigger carriers. Compliant companies have a difficult time competing against bad actors so a level set will take some pressure off smaller outfits that follow the rules.  
  • Safety – It’s estimated ELDs will prevent more than 1800 crashes*,  562 injuries and 26 deaths a year by limiting drivers to 11 hours of drive time a day, per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Everyone has a stake in those numbers. That’s why the Supreme Court refused to hear the mandate challenge. But even for smaller operators, the benefits of ELDs eventually outweigh the implementation costs over time.   

Take all the chatter about the ELD mandate with a grain of salt and look more closely at what the technology can do for your business over the long haul. Presumably, the ELD mandate will result in short-term changes, like driver shortage and fluctuation in employment numbers, but the industry will eventually adapt. As with all big changes, there will always be people who fear the worst. It’s often easier to be an optimist.

To learn more about how GPS tracking solutions can help with driver retention please visit http://www.teletracnavman.com/our-solutions/driver-behavior-and-safety/driver-performance-improvement

*Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents; Final Rule; FMCSA, 2015


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