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ELDs One Year In: How Has the Industry Responded?

It’s now been more than one year since the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate went into full effect in the U.S. While the compliance deadline was December 16, 2019, this journey goes back even further - including to 2015 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first published the final rule on ELDs. 

In the past six years, there have been significant changes in the transportation industry and technological advances in ELDs. 

So how has the ELD rule affected drivers and carriers, overall? In this post, we will cover the mandate’s impact on areas such as Hours of Service (HOS) compliance as well as how fleets can continue to uncover new ways to utilize ELDs to optimize driver utilization and fully connect to the broader transportation supply chain.

 

Revisiting the Intent of the ELD Mandate

While the trucking industry is now well-versed in the use of ELDs, it is important to revisit some of the reasons behind the mandate in the first place. The FMCSA notes that the purpose of the ELD mandate is “to help the motor carrier industry comply with critical hours-of-service regulations that improve safety on our Nation’s roads by making sure drivers get the breaks they need.” 

The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will result in 1,844 crashes avoided annually, 562 fewer injuries per year and 26 lives saved each year. The goal of improving road safety is also central to the Canadian version of the ELD mandate, set to go into effect in June 2021.

The FMCSA has also shown a balance between optimizing the safety of our nation’s roadways with ensuring that carriers and their drivers can operate effectively under this regulation. 

As part of that balance, the FMCSA introduced changes that went into effect in September 2020 to provide drivers with additional flexibility when operating on ELDs. This includes adjustments to the short-haul exemption and 30-minute rest break requirement as well as allowing drivers more discretion when using the split-sleeper-berth exception or when encountering adverse driving conditions.

 

FMCSA Findings Point to Fewer Violations and Cost Savings

While the concept of a “mandate” may naturally come off as punitive, there are certainly positive trends that can be attributed to the enforcement of the ELD rule. For example, the FMCSA has found that the percentage of Driver Inspections that noted at least one Hours of Service (HOS) violation dropped by nearly half - from 1.19 percent to .70 percent - between the initial compliance date in December 2017 and October 2020.

This noticeable drop in violations means more compliant drivers and fleets but also fewer violations and vehicles being placed out of service. This all adds up to more productivity and  fewer compliance-related fines.

The productivity and cost benefits extend beyond fines, too. The FMCSA also found that the ELD rule has not led to increased costs for drivers or carriers. Rather, it’s understood that the rule ultimately results in savings for carriers and drivers. 

These savings to carriers come in the form of “avoided losses in driver productivity and to drivers in the form of reductions in the off-duty time they are required to take during shifts,” according to the FMCSA. 

 

Utilizing ELDs to Improve Safety and More 

While the ELD mandate’s effects on safety might be clear, fleets are continuing to find new and innovative ways to utilize this driver data to improve all aspects of their operations. 

The rich amount of driver data provided by ELDs can help provide fleets with insights into driver and vehicle performance, empowering them to optimize available driver hours, proactively spot potential compliance issues and integrate driver and vehicle information with key back office maintenance, transportation management and safety systems. 

By electronically capturing key Hours of Service data, fleets are also able to more readily pair available capacity with freight to reduce empty miles, backhauls, improve driver efficiency and connect the entire supply chain to make it easier for shippers and carriers to work together.

 

How Trimble Can Help You Get the Most Out of Your ELD Investment

Whether you are operating on ELDs in the U.S. today or are looking to make the switch ahead of the Canadian mandate, knowing the intent of ELD regulations and the potential benefits of this technology can help ensure your continued compliance and productivity.

For nearly 20 years, Trimble has helped customers utilize electronic logging solutions to help enhance all aspects of their business, from ELDs to their predecessor the Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) . 

Contact us today to find out how we can help you make the most out of your technology investment, not just to comply with federal and state HOS regulations but to fully transform your fleet and more readily participate in a connected and collaborative transportation supply chain.