Perhaps electronic logging devices (ELD) are a nuisance to most trucker drivers. Or maybe, some truckers secretly love them. Either way, the ELD mandate is now required by law. Every single long-haul truck driver is required to electronically log when their truck moves and when it is parked to ensure the accuracy of each report.
The goal of the ELD law was to help improve driver safety. Many truckers have been known to falsify their handwritten log books or manipulate them to allow more driving time than the Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules legally allows. As you can imagine, this creates a host of safety issues, including accidents that can cause fatalities.
Regardless of whether a truck driver loves the idea of electronic logging devices or not, there is no doubt that it has made the roads safer. Violations, accidents, and over-the-road fatalities have decreased since the law was passed in December of 2017.
Below are some statistics compiled after the ELD law was passed:
- Driver fatigue decreased dramatically.
- Violations decreased 46%, including hours-of-service and log book violations.
- An estimated 1,800 truck accidents will be avoided.
- 26 lives each year will be saved from less overall truck accidents.
- Due to fewer violations and accidents, this will help save over $1 billion economically.
The Push for Intrastate ELD Mandate
All these figures only extend to interstate traffic, as the law does not apply to local or in-state driving. In-state driving is where the newest battle will rage in Congress. Lane Kidd, the managing director of the Trucking Alliance, believes the law should take one extra step.
In an interview, Kidd states that State legislatures should think about what Congress has achieved and demanded that all big rigs install ELDs in their truck. By installing ELDs in all big rigs, this ensures that all truck drivers are driving safe and obeying the laws.
The hope is to install ELDs in every large truck in the country regardless of size or destination to extend safety. Currently, no state or federal regulations include intrastate commercial trucks in the ELD law.
Since 2010, the Trucking Alliance has called for all trucks to install ELDs. Since the law passed in 2012, trucking companies were forced to install these logging devices in all trucks by 2017.
Advantages of Electronic Logging Devices
ELDs are not just for driver safety, they have other potentially useful applications as well.
The hours-of-service regulations are put in place for a reason and should be based on accurate science and data used to determine how many hours a truck driver can safely be on the road. This will also consider the number of hours of downtime they have. The ELDs help prevent inaccurate data from being used to when considering enforcing laws.
Now that the ELDs are in operation, this will allow companies and lawmakers a better picture of life in a commercial vehicle. It will also:
- Reduce human error.
- Give a better view of how many hours are spent on the road.
- Reveal how long drivers are waiting to be loaded and unloaded.
- See how much transit time is impacted by traffic congestion and other factors.
- Improve data relating to when accidents occur compared to the number of hours driven.
- Allow new laws to be written based upon the improved accuracy of these numbers.
Why Truck Drivers Do Not Like HOS Laws
Commercial drivers get paid by the mile and are rarely compensated for wait times caused by a shipper, traffic, or weather delays. If a driver gets behind on their hours because of a long wait, that is money out of their pockets. Some truck drivers may manipulate paper logs to allow themselves more a few extra miles they may have lost.
Also, the hours-of-service laws that were given to trucking companies and dispatchers force truckers to wake up at 2 AM and take a new load when their hours reset. Constant adjusting to different hours at different times each day can make driving situations dangerous and exhausting.
While drivers may be against the new electronic logging devices in their trucks, it may provide lawmakers and companies with more precise information. Allowing lawmakers to understand the ins and outs of what a trucker goes through each day; this may allow the laws to change in favor of truck drivers.
Currently, in the trucking industry, there are over 65,000 seats to fill; adding more laws and regulations is a detriment to the trucking industry. Still, as long as we are saving lives and avoiding accidents, ELDs are a positive move in the right direction to keep exhausted drivers off the road. In the long run, the benefits cannot be denied.