How Will You Adapt to the New ELD Mandate?

Two men using electronic logs for trucking

Starting on December 18, 2017, trucking companies and their drivers are now required to use electronic logging devices to record hours of service (HOS), in compliance with a new Federal rule. This rule is often referred to as the ELD mandate.

The ELD mandate is intended to improve accuracy in reporting driving time, location and other key metrics.

For carriers and owner operators already using e-logs, compliance will be fairly simple. But for the many carriers who still rely on traditional paper logs, the transition will be more difficult.

Keep reading to learn more about the challenges posed by the ELD mandate and the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage while implementing e-logs in compliance with this new regulation.

What Is the ELD Mandate?

The electronic logging device mandate, or ELD mandate, was enacted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2015 in compliance with a congressional mandate that was signed into law in 2012.

The ELD mandate calls for carriers to install ELD technology that synchronizes with the vehicle’s engine and automatically records driving time. The technology is intended to provide faster and more accurate tracking and reporting of records of duty status (RODS).

The deadline for compliance was December 18, 2017. By this date, carriers must have evaluated, selected and installed ELD technology in all trucks, and drivers and administrative staff must have been trained to use it correctly.

At this point, drivers must be able to do the following:

  • Understand and be able to use ELDs
  • Annotate and edit RODS
  • Certify RODS
  • Collect required supporting documents
  • Display and transfer data to safety officials when requested

What Are the Disadvantages of Paper Logs?

Commercial truck drivers have long recorded their hours and breaks on standard paper sheets. Being that it was up to the driver to fill them out, there was a lot of flexibility the driver had in terms of what they wrote down versus what they actually did.  

Enforcement was a reactionary, labor-intensive audit process by DOT officers to tie the driver’s hours, records and position history to fuel receipts and time stamps on Bills of Lading from shippers and receivers.  

Electronic logbooks, on the other hand, in most cases use satellite position history, ignition status and a time-stamp of driver actions. This virtually eliminates the driver’s ability to “cheat” in order to get more miles in a day or loads in a week. Historically, it was up to the carriers and their drivers to cheat in order to make up for the inefficiencies of the shippers and receivers.

Because it was so widely accepted as part of the business, the market effectively priced that “extra capacity” in the economics of the industry.  

What Are the Challenges of Complying with ELD Requirements?

Now, with the ability for the HOS rules to be so easily enforced, the amount of miles an average truck can do in a week or month or year gets reduced by that fudge factor.  

Considering that about 90 percent of the trucking companies have less than 20 trucks, and that the majority of those companies have been operating on paper logs, compliance with the new ELD rule presents a significant challenge.

If everything else remains equal, the reduction in the current capacity of transporting goods will be reduced between 5 and 10 percent.  

That is a lot bigger deal than it sounds. And it is compounded by the fact that nothing else is remaining the same for a host of reasons.

  • Demand for transportation is increasing.
  • The number of available drivers has been decreasing.
  • In the current business climate, compliance with the ELD rule translates into consumers paying higher prices for products on the shelf.

What Are the Advantages of E-Logs For Owner Operators and Small Fleets?

While the new regulation presents significant challenges, e-logs do bring some good news for owner operators and small fleet owners, as well as an opportunity for carriers to gain a competitive advantage:

  • Ability to hold shippers/receivers responsible for lost time. Rates will more accurately reflect the true cost of driver time.
  • Better utilization can be achieved when dispatch can see a driver’s actual time available to be able to plan more effectively.
  • More customers will be competing for available drivers which will move driver pay per mile up.
  • Shorter length of haul will be a driving force in the marketplace as customers look for affordable solutions to get product to consumers. This, in turn, will increase the need for regional/local drivers with more home-time opportunities.
  • With increased transportation costs there will be no choice for customers but to try and become more efficient elsewhere when it comes to warehousing and distribution. If they are going to have to pay a premium to ship a product they will want to warehouse less product creating more just-in-time inventories. Providing excellent on-time service will be recognized and the trucking company with the latest technology and most advanced support system (operations) will be awarded more freight lanes at better rates.

Added regulations on the transportation industry will create an effective barrier to entry for new entrants to trucking. The professionals that embrace (but not necessarily support) the regulatory environment will be able to perform and show sustainable growth.

How Can You Comply with the ELD Mandate?

For starters, carriers who haven’t already done so must install e-logs in all trucks, and make sure drivers and administrative staff are trained in using the devices correctly.

  • The model you choose must be an FMCSA-approved ELD.
  • Research your ELD provider with the Better Business Bureau.
  • You can review a checklist of FMCSA ELD requirements here.

In light of the new ELD regulations, technological advancements and evolving marketplace, it will no longer be possible for archaic management styles to compete in the trucking industry.

Customers will not be willing or able to provide freight to a carrier that doesn’t meet regulations that would open the customer up to legal liabilities and litigation. Utilizing a large trailer pool with many drop and hook customers will expedite a driver’s ability to complete one load and move on to the next, increasing overall revenue.

Prime, Inc. can provide the infrastructure, equipment, technology and personnel to allow our carrier partners to thrive in this very restrictive marketplace. The transition to e-logs for owner/operators and small fleets will be a smooth one with our Power Fleet Advanced Fleet Program. 


Do you have questions about how to comply with the new ELD mandate?

Contact us at Prime’s Power Fleet Advanced Fleet Program. We’ll provide helpful information on satisfying the new requirements and gaining a competitive advantage for your business.