Cancel OK

A New Day

Consequences—intended or otherwise—of the ELD mandate
MS_A New Day

Further, 51 percent of owner-operators admitted they wanted to get out of trucking when asked about the future of their trucking career.

“As trucking becomes more and more regulated, my feeling is that capacity will continue to shrink,” observes Jacqueline McKenzie, vice president of corporate communications for Triple Star Logistics, Inc. “While trucking isn’t the most glamorous of professions, one of the benefits of being a trucker was the autonomy. But with every new regulation, autonomy is eroded. It’s another hurdle in attracting new people to the profession.”

Conjecture vs. Reality
As a result of these and other factors, the ELD compliance deadline was seen by many as a sort of doomsday scenario: if not the end of hauling as we know it, at least a tectonic shift of the kind not seen since the requirement of commercial driver licenses in 1986. Since the industry survived that hurdle and those that came after, it will overcome this too, right? Will this be seen as a true watershed moment, or as a situation where the fear of change outpaced the reality of compliance?

“We don’t use ELDs, but we do interface with them for our transportation management system,” explains Dan Vaché, who recently retired as director of sales for software provider FreightFlow. “There are both good and bad sides to enforcing the use of ELDs: the good news is that with stricter hours of service regulation, drivers will see a decrease in wasted standby time [at shipping docks]; the bad news is with drivers unable to exceed regulated hours of service, produce will see an increase in transit time.”

Exploring other options
Climbing transport time has already been seen in perishables with delays and late arrivals, prompting some shippers to consider intermodal solutions as a way around the full burden of compliance. This, however, has its own complications.

“Intermodal, although more cost effective, has delivery times on par with those brought on by the ELD mandate, and in some instances even longer,” notes Joe Rubini, president of Rally Logistics, Inc., headquartered near Toronto, Ontario. “Shippers are aware that trucks can no longer spend hours waiting on loads, so many have been arranging loads of trucks with more accurate appointments.”

DeMatteis, too, notes intermodal may be a solution for some, but not others. It can be inefficient when multiple pickups and dropoffs are required, and does not pair well with time-sensitive or perishable freight like fresh produce.

A growing response to the mandate is one that reaches back to the old days of long-haul trucking: pairs of drivers working as a team. While the rates for team service are higher, sometimes as much as $500 to $1,500 per truckload, this pales in comparison to the cost of noncompliance, missing a delivery due to running out of service hours, or losing the load to spoilage.