Small carriers and owner-operators continue to lag behind their larger counterparts in making the switch from automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to electronic logging devices (ELDs).
About 17 percent of all surveyed carriers over the past four weeks are still holding on to their old devices. This number climbs to 23 percent when only looking at fleets running between one and five trucks, according to the weekly FreightWaves and EROAD survey released Monday, July 15.
Small carriers and owner-operators may have a slight advantage over larger carriers when making the switch to ELDs because they have to train fewer people to use the new technology, but there are also challenges that come with making changes in a smaller operation.
“For small fleets, especially owner-operators, who don’t have support staff, taking the time to research ELD options and find the best fit is critical. An ELD that doesn’t operate consistently or is hard to use puts you and your loads at risk,” said Heather Woodruff, manager of customer service and success for EROAD. “Getting the low-cost option at the last minute may get you inside the FMCSA deadline, but it may not need lead to consistent compliance in the long run.”
This week’s survey, which was conducted by CarrierLists, garnered responses from 137 carriers. During the poll, about 87 percent of carriers indicated they are ELD-ready, while about 13 percent were still using AOBRDs.
This week’s responses were added to the responses gathered during the previous weekly surveys to deduce that about 83 percent of carriers are ELD-compliant and 17 percent are still relying on AOBRDs.
Regional and super-fleets also continue to be less ELD-compliant than national fleets. This makes sense because there tends to be a higher prevalence of small carriers and owner-operators running regional routes. Regional carriers are defined as carriers that run in a 150- to 1,000-mile radius, while super-regional carriers run over 1,000 miles but not nationwide.
This week’s surveys brought the cumulative number of compliant regional and super-regional fleets to 81 percent each. Regional fleets maintained the same percentage from last week, but super-regional fleets saw a small improvement over last week’s 79 percent.
The cumulative percentage of ELD-compliant national carriers climbed from 88 percent to 89 percent when this week’s survey responses were added.
Variations in ELD-compliance are not limited to fleet size and routing. Compliance also varies by fleet type, with reefers showing the highest compliance rates and tankers showing the lowest rates.
“Tankers are probably late to the game because they run shorter hauls than other trailer types,” said Jason Miller, Associate Professor of Logistics at Michigan State University. “Typically they run very consistent lanes and have a lot of knowledge of enforcement routines.”
Most carriers that have not implemented ELDs yet still intend to wait until the third quarter to do so, but the number of carriers planning to start running ELDs in December has dropped from 27 percent two weeks ago to 24 percent this week.
The number of carriers planning to wait until November to make the switch has also dropped, moving from 41 percent two weeks ago to 37 percent this week. Meanwhile, the number of carriers who plan to switch in October has grown from 23 percent two weeks ago to 28 percent this week.
About 3 percent of carriers now plan to install ELDs in September, up from 0 percent two weeks ago. However, the 9 percent of carriers who planned to make the switch in August has now dropped to 7 percent.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been consistent in recommending that carriers make the switch well before the December 16 deadline. The growing tendency toward switching over in the beginning of the fourth quarter, as opposed to the end, may lead to a smoother transition period.
EROAD’s guide “Planning your move from AOBRD to ELD” gives eight key considerations and six critical questions to help select the right solution and make to achieve the easiest transition possible.
Visit the AOBRD to ELD resource center to download the guide.