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pers and receivers react when a driver pulls
in to a loading dock with cargo to unload
and no spare time on his or her hours of
service, which can no longer be altered by
paper logs? Then there is the widespread
speculation that many solo drivers—the
backbone of the U.S. trucking fleet—will
exit the business because they lack the
scale and resources to operate efficiently
without effectively flouting the hours-of-service rules.
Eric Fuller, chief executive officer of
Chattanooga, Tenn.-based US Xpress Inc.,
the largest privately held truckload carrier, expects that many shipments with
500- to 700-mile lengths of haul, which
might move in one workday with a little
paper-log fudging, will find fewer takers in an ELD world. Tommy Hodges, a
trucking industry veteran and chairman
of Shelbyville, Tenn.-based truckload carrier Titan Transfer Inc., said the mandate’s impact will be keenly felt in densely populated, traffic-clogged regions like
the Northeast, where congestion will only
amplify the time pressures on drivers who
no longer have the option of manipulating
Some high-density markets may go
unserved because the mandate makes it
impossible to hit delivery targets without
fudging logbooks, Hodges said. Shippers
in some markets will face freight rates that
are much higher than they’re accustomed
to, he added. The mandate will aggravate
an acute capacity shortage in some traffic
lanes, according to Hodges. Space in some
lanes is already so tight that rates are as
much as six times higher than they’ve been
in the very recent past, he said.
A HOUSE DIVIDED
Given how high the stakes are, shippers
have been surprisingly slow off the mark
in preparing for the mandate, experts said.
According to Fuller, US Xpress’s shipper
universe is split between those who fully
grasp the mandate’s impact and are getting
as ready as possible, and those who don’t
know or care. “There really is no middle
ground,” he said.
Nor is a shipper’s size or its freight
spend a predictor of involvement: One of
the country’s largest shippers, who Fuller
declined to identify, has done nothing to
that conducts roadside inspections,
notified the FMCSA that it would
delay writing vehicle out-of-service
orders for ELD non-compliance
until April 1, saying it would give
carriers and drivers more time to
adjust to the mandate.)
Official numbers are impossible
to come by, but several industry
estimates put the number of U.S.
commercial truck drivers working
beyond the legal limits and falsifying their paper logs at 10 to
20 percent of a 3. 5 million-strong
workforce. Ken Harper, marketing
director for DAT Solutions, a load-board operator, goes several steps
further, contending that all owner-operators fudge their paper logs
to some degree.
It is believed that about half of
the commercial motor vehicles in
operation are not yet equipped with
ELDs. Harper said that a DAT sur-
vey of around 20,000 carriers and
owner-operators conducted in June
found that surprisingly few respon-
dents were in compliance with the
SAFETY FIRST, ECONOMICS A
By forcing all drivers to operate
in the same way, safety regulators
believe the rule will keep tired drivers from logging extra miles to meet
a delivery commitment when by
law, they should already be off the
road. Beyond the safety priorities,
however, is the increasing awareness that the mandate will change
trucking’s economic ecosystem in
ways shippers can’t imagine, and
may not be prepared for.
For example, how will shippers
adjust when they find that loads
once moved by drivers exceeding the legal limit either don’t get
moved as intended or are moved at
a much higher price? How will ship-