Will ELDs Really Help Carriers Cut Costs?
The main reason behind the most talked about upcoming mandate in trucking is safety. Drivers across the country will close their paper logbooks for good on December 18th, relying on electronic logging devices from then on.
The premise behind the change is a simple one – fewer inaccuracies in logbooks means fewer violations of hours-of-service rules. This, in theory, means there will be less drowsy drivers behind the wheel and thus fewer fatigue-related accidents.
Though the mandate was pushed initially with the intent of reducing crash rates and promoting accuracy when it comes to the reporting of hours, some regulators also claimed that the move would help carriers cut costs.
Outside of the obvious burden presented by liabilities, the purported economic advantages of ELDs stem from less paperwork, fewer mistakes, and a reduced chance of penalties. But since most long-haul truckers will be using these devices come 2018, carriers are taking a closer look into just how this move will influence costs.
In addition to setup costs for new trucks, ELDs will also come with a monthly service charge. The implementation of these devices will go differently depending on the company and driver. But even in a case-by-case basis, it is hard to make the argument that ELDs won’t present more costs than they save.
For larger carriers with thousands of trucks, the expenses can add up quickly. For smaller companies and independent drivers, covering the initial costs will be burdensome as well. Service fees alone could be in the hundreds of thousands or even millions.
Combine this with concerns about privacy, and about independent drivers losing freedom when they’re subcontracted to a company that must log their hours, and it is easy to see why the once-lauded measure is beginning to lose favor with some.
This doesn’t mean the entire industry is opposed to the change. But it does mean that companies and drivers are taking a much closer look at the true financial burden associated with this change.
To handle costs, trucking companies may end up raising prices. The result could see the ELD mandate prevent some accidents, but also impact everyone who depends on the freight industry.