the drivers nationwide have not yet complied.
Q Why still a seemingly high percentage of noncompli- ance at this stage?
AKeep in mind that the larger carriers, which are those with strong safety cultures, have worked with
electronic logs for several years. What we have left are a
lot of smaller fleets and owner-operators that don’t have
aggressive safety cultures. Or their systems aren’t structured to support operating with ELDs.
Communications through the media about possible
implementation delays has been a huge factor in keeping down compliance. First, fleets and drivers heard
about the Trump administration planning to kill two
rules for every new one enacted, and they thought
ELD compliance would end up in
the killed-rules category. Then it was
the [Owner-Operator Independent
Drivers Association] making multiple
and well-publicized efforts to delay or
block implementation. That was interpreted as a sign of another delay in the
QEstimates of the carrier productiv- ity hit post-Dec. 18 have ranged
from 3 to 4 percent to the low double
digits. Where do you come down?
AIn excess of 10 percent.
Q How do you arrive at that estimate?
ALet’s say each of the 30 to 40 percent of noncom- pliant drivers is falsifying their paper log by three
hours per week, which in my view is conservative. They
could either be driving too long or getting back on
the road eight and a half hours into their mandatory
10-hour rest cycle instead of waiting the full 10 hours.
Put another way, say you have a 20-truck fleet and each
driver is illegal for three hours per week. They could
easily fudge those numbers with paper logs. But with
ELDs, that additional driving time, and the productivity
that accompanies it, goes away. Then you overlay the
American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates of
a shortage of 50,000 drivers, which means trucks stay
parked for lack of occupied seats, and it isn’t hard to
imagine a 10- to 12-percent productivity hit in the near
Q Will drivers be able to get away with noncompliance?
ATechnically, they can. But it will be harder to do, and it will be easier to get caught. When a truck is
stopped for any reason, logbooks are always checked.
It will become apparent right away whether a driver is
compliant. Owner-operators or fleets with two or three
trucks might get away with not having ELDs. Once you
get to fleets of six to nine trucks, though, the chances of
being stopped will increase.
Noncompliance will not generate an out-of-service
order until April because FMCSA delayed that part of the
rule. However, being pulled over and not having an ELD
will add points to a driver’s or fleet’s CSA [safety perfor-mance] scores, which raises their insurance premiums
and puts them at a disadvantage when
bidding on future business.
Q Are there fleets that have looked beyond the initial adjustment phase
and recognized that ELDs could result
in a better, more efficient operation?
A100 percent yes. Go back to the fleets that installed automated
on-board recorders years ago. They
took a 4- to 6-percent initial produc-
tivity hit, but they improved their oper-
ational efficiency and they regained
most of the loss in 12, 18, 24 months.
This ties back to why the 10- to 12-per-
cent productivity hit post-Dec. 18 is
a realistic number. The financially stronger fleets with
deeply ingrained safety cultures still took a near 6-per-
cent hit. You can’t tell me the ones that are still waiting
to comply are going to take the same hit as those who
have historically been safer.
QBut you see good things coming out of ELD implementation?
AYes. Real-time asset tracking will be a huge benefit. Dispatchers can automatically see how much on-du-ty time a driver has left. Currently, they have to call,
e-mail, or text to obtain that information. Dispatching
systems that interact with good ELD equipment will
enable auto-tracking of driver detention time, arrivals
and departures, and invoicing. It will also prepopu-late shipper numbers and bill-of-lading information so
drivers don’t have to do it. Also, because all of the data