Are You Ready?
By Larry Pruitt
With the FMCSA‘s Electronic Logging Device Mandate deadline quickly looming, Owner-Operators and small fleet owners alike are trying to wade through all of their options for the upcoming mandate deadline. They’re trying to decide what will work best for them. I know some companies have been testing different products on some select trucks in their fleet, while other operations are holding out hope that there will be a stay at the eleventh hour. In my opinion, Congress doesn’t seem to agree on anything these days and unable to get anything passed, so I seriously doubt that this will get stopped before December 18.
With that being said, there is a very large contingent of drivers that have made the statement that they are leaving the industry when this mandate takes effect. Some may leave and will probably move on to other careers, but most will continue on and adapt to the mandate. This upheaval in the industry will subside, and as my Mom would say, “This too shall pass”, and I agree with her, “This too will pass… it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass”. I’m old enough to remember back in the late-eighties or early-nineties when the CDL License Program was being introduced into the Trucking Industry. There was a large number of drivers that were afraid that the CDL process would be so complicated that there was going to be a large shortage of drivers. Drivers were going to leave the industry in droves because of something that today is viewed as no big deal and just part of the process of the regulations that we are saddled with today.
I’m not going to try to change anybody’s mind here on whether you want ELDs or don’t want them. I’m just going to pass on my experiences, as I switched over to an ELD a little over a month ago.
To give you a little bit of background, I’ve been doing my logs on a tablet for the past 5 years or so using the Big Road app. I found that my logs were much easier to make sure that they were filled out completely and most of all, correctly. This helps ensure you have a lesser chance to fall victim to a form and matter violation at a roadside inspection. The app would not let you sign your log unless everything was filled out properly. I installed the connection to ECM back in September using the same app Big Road app. I chose this product for a couple of different reasons, one was that I already was familiar with the app and the other was that I had good luck with tech support previously. I wanted to get acclimated to using an ELD now versus trying to get compliant in the middle of December and having trouble.
The process of switching over has been pretty much uneventful so far. I haven’t been caught about to run out of hours in my day yet, but I’m sure that will happen eventually. I’m very fortunate that my operation allows me to be home every night. I will admit that e-logs make it easier to keep track of duty status changes, it automatically knows when you start driving and when you stop driving, so you don’t even have to look at it for the biggest part of the day. I will go back into it later and add notes to my stops whenever I have the time.
I think that ELDs are going to affect the industry over the foreseeable future. I think that changes are going to be just as hard on shippers and receivers. The truck lines are going to force shippers to get their trucks in and out and back on the road. Let’s face it, companies are not going to be able to let trucks sit at a shipper or receiver for roughly 8 hours and then only have 6 hours left for their day and still be able to make any profit whatsoever. Shippers will have to get better or their freight will lay on their dock, because no one will waste their time with that shipper. I can see more drop and hook freight in the future, in segments that have never before been drop and hook operations.
One thing is for sure, the small fleet folks may have to change how they do business. I think most small carriers will be able to adapt if they approach this from working within the system rather than trying to work around the system.
Well, that’s my opinion and experiences on the ELD mandate. There are folks that agree with me and most definitely some that do not agree with me but are very passionate about their opinion. No matter what anyone’s opinion is, let’s revisit this issue in about a year or so and see what the industry and it’s logging issues are at that time. To everyone involved, GOOD LUCK with the mandate!
Iowa80.com offers a variety of e-log devices, shop here.
Larry Pruitt is an owner-operator with over 20 years of experience and has been involved in trucking for close to 40 years. He is a firefighter in North St. Louis County Missouri and resides with his wife, Jeanette, in Saint Clair, MO.