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ELDs add $12 billion to truckers’ pockets

ELD device from BigRoad, a leading provider of ELD devices

ELDs have been the most polarizing subject in the freight markets over the past few years. The large enterprise carriers have wanted them to ensure that every carrier followed the same set of rules. Smaller owner-operators and voice freight brokers felt as if ELDs were government encroachment into their lives. The fear of big-brother monitoring every move is more emotional than reality, but the economic impacts are real.

One of the things that we have been watching intently is whether or not ELDs impact behavior. First with the carriers and then with shippers and brokers. The impact on shippers and brokers will show up in two data-sets: the TRI (tender rejection index) and in rates (spot and contract). We know from our rate sources (DAT, Cass, and public carrier reports) that there has been a dramatic inflation environment in contract rates. Until the last two weeks, the spot market was stabilizing as shippers were benefiting from better capacity planning.

But one of the things that we have been curious about is how carriers are reacting to the mandate. Are we seeing a change in driver behavior? Nearly 60 days into the hard mandate, we can see that is the case. By looking at what we call the “HOS Daily Driving Utilization Index” or HOS11, we look at ELD data and determine how much of driver’s 11 hours are dedicated to actually putting miles on a truck. We gather millions of HOS data points every single day from a couple hundred thousand ELD devices, anonymize them, and publish them on our SONAR dashboard.

 Daily driving time based on an 11 hour clock, charted inside of FreightWaves
Daily driving time based on an 11 hour clock, charted inside of FreightWaves’ SONAR platform

Last year, prior to the ELD soft-mandate, we saw that drivers were averaging around 6.52 hours per day of driving time. The ELD soft-mandate went into effect on December 16, but with it being so close to the holidays, it is hard to get an accurate read on the impact until mid-January. We saw we describe as the “Post Holiday Normalization” take place on January 14. You can see that the total driving hours went back to around 6.52 hours per day. This stayed consistent until Valentine’s day, when we started to see drivers start to modify their behavior and increase hours dedicated to driving. We believe this is a reflection of drivers starting to think about the hard mandate on April first and change on what freight they selected and how they managed their hours.

Moving forward into the hard mandate in April, we see that there is a distinct change in driver behavior. Throughout April, drivers started to push further towards 7 hours of daily driving time, at least three days a week. Every Tuesday-Thursday, drivers are exceeding 6.8 hrs of daily driving time and going tapping out at 7 hours per day. We estimate that each hour is worth approximately $112 (based on a 7 hour clock), therefore drivers are recovering approximately $54 of additional earnings per day from proper HOS management. For an industry with 860,000 for-hire trucks, this equates to $231 million dollars per week or $12 billion dollars annually of additional value generated by ELD devices to the industry as a whole.


  1. Ruben

    Great article. I also think ELD Mandate would increase the cost of shipping and therefore the cost of products around the nation. However, once that will not be tolerated by shippers . Trucking brokers will have to simply take less and award more to truckers who are actually doing the work. Without the eld rule truckers were forced to work long hours for low pay because of the greedy brokers. I also read a good piece on which goes into great detail about the effect of the eld rule. Some 3% of drivers actually quit.

  2. Donnie

    I want to be diplomatic about this post, but I am truly at a loss for words. I’m sorry for this, but…..
    This article is a complete load of shit.

  3. Mike H

    Y’all need to go back to school for additional math & statistics classes! I don’t know ANY drivers who only get in 7 hours on a regular basis!!! I’m quite certain there is something very wrong with the data set(s) you’re working with!!!

  4. JJustice

    The person who is responsible for this report should climb into a truck for a week and see what it takes for the men and women who supply our nation with Everything we need to function before he/she displays an article like this. You obviously are an American who enjoys the fruits of someone else’s labor without any given thought of where the necessities/novelties you so greatly enjoy were made available for you. You see numbers on paper and a computer screen and Assume those numbers to be realistic however, you obviously never took the time to further your investigation by going "hands-on" before writing this article or you would know this to be absolutely Untrue. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before stating factual information. Get out from behind your desk (which I’m sure was hauled by a truck at some point before you obtained it) and see for yourself. This is Not Factual. You should have to state your article was not obtained hands on. Therefore, this is Fake Journalism!! Take a minute to read the other comments here. When trucks stop moving maybe Someone will care to listen to these DRIVERS.

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