ELD mandate improved hours-of-service compliance, hasn’t reduced crashes

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,004 views 

The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has led to improved hours-of-service compliance but has had no effect on the number of crashes, said Dave Osiecki, president of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting.

Osiecki spoke in a recent webinar on the impact of the mandate, and since it went into effect Dec. 18, 2017, 97% of carriers have adopted a telematics solution. More than half of the carriers went with automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) to comply with the mandate, he said. But those carriers will be required to switch to an ELD by December 2019 when the grandfather clause expires. Those who weren’t early adopters of AOBRDs purchased ELDs to comply with the mandate.

Hours-of-service violations declined to 0.51% of roadside inspections in January, from 0.7% in April 2018 when the mandate started to be enforced, and from 1.2% when the mandate went into effect, according to federal data. However, the number of crashes before the mandate went into effect was an average of 1,717 and increased 11.4% to 1,912 per week after the mandate went into effect but fell 0.8% to 1,703 weekly after it started to be enforced in April 2018, according to a recent study on the mandate.

The study also showed small carriers and owner-operators received more citations for unsafe driving after the mandate went into effect. He explained a theory is the carriers and drivers impacted by the mandate made up for the productivity loss by speeding or driving aggressively. After the mandate started to be enforced, unsafe driving violations for these drivers rose 35.3%, from before it went into effect. Over the same period, the violations for drivers for large carriers rose 5.5%.

“When governments impose policy interventions and policy mandates, like ELDs, it’s very hard to figure out in advance what the outcomes are going to be,” Osiecki said. “And in this case, the outcomes, as we’ve talked about, maybe there was anticipated to be crash count reductions right from the start where we haven’t seen that.”

The hours-of-service data might lead the federal government to make changes to the hours of service, he said. Also, the American Transportation Research Institute, the nonprofit research organization of trade group American Trucking Associations, is collecting ELD data to guide future regulations and address industry issues.

Dean Croke, chief analytics officer for FreightWaves, also spoke in the webinar, and based on a recent survey, he said more than half of carriers plan to wait until the fourth quarter to switch from AOBRDs to ELDs. More than 66% plan to use the existing AOBRD provider to provide the ELDs. And, more than half expect productivity to remain the same after the switch, but nearly 40% expect productivity to fall. About 6% expect productivity to rise.

Croke also provided some data on the existing freight market, and said as capacity has loosened, the loads that carriers have rejected have fallen 43% as shipper detention rates increased 28%. Detention refers to the time a driver spends waiting for a shipment to be loaded or unloaded. About 7% of loads were rejected in March, from about 25% of loads March 2018. As capacity has risen, shippers have more choices for freight delivery, and of the 135 U.S. freight markets, the amount of time drivers spend at docks has increased in 60% of them.

Since the ELD mandate went into effect, drivers spend an average of 6.56 hours driving, out of the 11 hours per day allowed under the hours-of-service regulation. But compared to March 2018, the average time drivers spend driving has fallen to 5.52 hours.

“Across the board, drivers leave on the table quite a few hours every day, and we need to as an industry find ways to allow drivers to get more productivity each day because they are leaving behind a maximum of four hours every day on average that they could be doing something better with,” Croke said. “I don’t think that sitting on a loading dock and being paid an hourly wage is going to satisfy most of the need because drivers want to drive because that’s, especially in truckload, that’s how their hours and remuneration is being structured.”

When asked the change from AOBRDs and ELDs, Croke said he didn’t expect a grace period, or soft enforcement period, for AOBRDs like ELDs received between December 2017 and April 2018. Osiecki said the federal government isn’t going to allow for an extension to the mandate, requiring the change from AOBRDs to ELDs, and encouraged fleets to not wait until the fourth quarter to switch.

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