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Will ELDs Push Smaller Carriers Out of the Industry?

Will ELDs Push Smaller Carriers Out of the Industry?

The upcoming switch from paper logbooks to electronic logging devices has been a hot topic in trucking for over a year.

Such a massive change in the way truckers do business was always going to be a controversial one. There’s been talk on both sides of the debate, with everyone from drivers to administrators voicing their concerns on the matter.

Despite the fierce discussion, it’s all but certain that the change will come into effect this December. Some have pushed for extensions after their chances of getting a repeal were revealed to be slim. But while some companies have made peace with the impending change, others may not adjust so well.

Some analysts are reporting that the upcoming switch to ELDs could have a negative impact on the industry. Namely, it could push small and mid-sized carriers out. With more stringent rules in place and less control, those companies with the fewest resources and the smallest rosters may be hit the hardest.

Consider a truck driver that has to stop for a half-hour at a store or port while the truck is loaded or unloaded. From a technical perspective, the driver is still on the clock during this time though they aren’t actually driving. No extra miles means no extra money, but the time is still lost. This means drivers sometimes will alter their logbooks to account for this downtime, allowing them to make a little extra.

This type of action doesn’t even constitute a driver being active on the road for longer than laws allow, but it will still be impossible once ELDs hit the scene. By taking away small options like this that some carriers depend on, the new law could worsen the growing trucker shortage.

Those who are opposed to the mandate usually state that violations fall into the above category, and that situations with drivers staying on the road to the point of exhaustion are rare. They argue the mandate won’t have as big of an impact on safety as regulators say.

Some even claim that powerful organizations in the trucking industry use their lobbying power to create this mandate as a way of ending competition. The mandate is scheduled to go into effect December 18.

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