The future of small fleets post-ELD mandate

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With less than two months left before the ELD mandate goes into effect, statistics coming from ground zero on the compliance of carriers to the proposed rule are far from satisfactory. Kevin Hill from undertook an interesting study, where he surveyed ELD adoption rates with 1,600 carrier companies. “The deadline is fast approaching, and yet, only 35% of the fleets have purchased and installed ELD devices for their fleets,” says Hill.

The records kept by the American Trucking Association (ATA) show that 97.2% of all fleet owners operate fewer than 20 trucks, thus classifying an overwhelming majority to be small-fleet carriers. Larger fleets ply with deeper pockets and many have already complied with the mandate or are in the process of equipping their trucks with the ELD, unlike the smaller fleets.

One of the primary reasons for the seeming reluctance in adoption is the perceived fall in revenue when ELDs come into play. This is because ELDs regulate the number of hours truckers spend on the road and officially driving is restricted to 11 hours for a 14-hour shift. This also includes time wasted at the dock and on the highways due to traffic and logistics issues. 

Truckers get paid by the mile. Strictly monitoring and limiting their driving hours could potentially impact their earnings potential. ELDs provide little flexibility when compared to paper logs. This puts smaller fleet companies in a spot and thus there is an obvious resistance to change. ELDs range in price from less than $100 to $1,000, and many include monthly service fees, adding a financial burden on these companies.

Authorities from state and federal law enforcement departments understand that the change is hard for the smaller fleets and thus plan only on fining truckers without ELDs and not force them off the road until April 2018. But critics feel that there would be a visible loss of trucking fleets due to the mandate, since it inevitably means lower incomes.

On the positive side of things, the ELD mandate is touted to bring in a lot more accountability to the industry. Better driving hour regulations mean the truckers are properly rested, thus reducing accidents on the road, with FMCSA estimating that the measure would save 26 lives annually.

Though the near future looks murky, adopting ELDs might be a shot in the arm in the longer run. Tighter compliance with regulation of trucking hours means reducing the hauling capacity and speed of delivery, but with demand remaining constant, the fleet companies should be able to leverage that for better pricing – which eventually would work well for the industry’s future.

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Vishnu Rajamanickam, Staff Writer

Vishnu writes editorial commentary on cutting-edge technology within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from industry frontrunners and thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he writes neo-noir poetry, blogs about travel & living, and loves to debate about international politics. He hopes to settle down in a village and grow his own food at some point in time. But for now, he is happy to live with his wife in the middle of a German metropolitan.

One Comment

  1. Isn’t this ironic the government likes to say this is for safety or this is to protect or children or this is to protect our country. When really all it is another way to control us . It Will not help with safety I find that the hiring of corporation drivers with no experience will still go on to cause the majority of accident and getting people killed. I don’t need any more government control I have a perfect driving record . They should worry about getting rid of all there crocked friends in the swamp.go trump

  2. Richard, very true! Its all about control! Git rid of the 14 hour clock! When you are tired you could rest! (no) it makes you run tired or not! Also shippers and receivers are not held accountable, set for 7 to 9 hours,,to unload or load, clocks running! You tell them you are gonna be out of time, they say tough, can’t park here! You have to leave, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE! So you have to find a place to go, try that in the middle of the night or during rush hour, it isn’t that truckers cheat, its the government control, and shippers and recievers! That make a trucker cheat!!
    Now with more monthly charges, and government fines!
    We will starve, while you live high off the hog!
    Bringing you the supplies you want, while you beat us down!

  3. The most unsafe trucking I’ve ever done was because of running an eld. I’ve driven over nine million miles with out a log book ticket and no at fault accidents. I never was as tired and driven so dangerous as I did for the two months I ran elds. I was driving sleepy because I couldn’t get proper rest. I was on a dedicated run for NFI and I ran the run six months before the elds and loved the run ,got plenty of rest and looked forward to running each turn ,could stop when I wanted to where I wanted to. When they installed the eld everything changed and on top of that I still lost a round a month. Needless to say I quit before I killed myself or someone else.


    Now with the Eld Man date all set to destroy the trucking way of life .it will give shady companies another took to screw drivers out of of their pay . Cutting them back by not letting them get 34 hr rs .making them run 2 hrs in a day or 3 hrs if thats all they have . You have a delievrey you show up for yur appointment you have 3 hrs left to work and they hold you past your 14 hr wk day then try to kick you you what protect do we have and where is the gaurentee we have any protection at all or are we just screwed !! This is the crap we drivers have to worry about .I know because I have been put in that situtation at wall mart

  5. Government screwed the driver and owner opp the minute they deregulated the trucking industry and with each passing year it got worse I knew once the Dot DEPARTMENT OF TAXES was created it was not about saftey it was about socialisum control and knew with in 25 years my way of life would be fried and every driver that has two braincells also . These Burracratic missfits think they are making our roads safe by removing the english speaking law to botain a C D L
    They will do what the trucking industry
    Should have done years ago
    They have shut this country down but are to stupid to see it .
    And this first month all I will do is laugh my ass off

  6. If that start checking they will see most truck accidents r eld driver are politicians r getting out of hand trucker needs show them who really runs it with out trucks America stops we can live better any way with out the politicians