Electronic trucking: Truckers adapt to new mandate

By Phillip Harnden phillip@glenrockind.com

Experts are predicting a rise in the cost of goods as the new Department of Transportation mandate for electronic logs takes effect. The rigidity and rounding issues of the automated system are causing the shipping industry to be inefficient and forcing shipping costs to rise, and therefore shelf prices.
Dec. 18 was the deadline for all shippers to have electronic logs implemented in their fleets, at least for any vehicle made in the year 2000 or later.
Electronic logging devices (ELD) are replacing the classic paper log books that commercial drivers use to track their driving, on duty/not driving, sleeper berth and off-duty hours.
Trucking rates on Dec. 19 for refrigerated trucks moving from California’s Imperial Valley to Baltimore are up 5 percent from the previous week, and up 17 percent from this time last year.
Some are blaming the ELD for some of this increased cost.
The ELD, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency that oversees commercial driving regulations describes ELD rule as follows.
“The electronic logging device (ELD) rule – congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21 – is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data. An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.”
But according to industry experts, the rigidity of automated logs are having some unintended consequences to the trucking industry.
The ELD system is also causing problems with many smaller businesses according to Kent Keeler, owner and driver of KCK Inc., a Montana based trucking company, which operates locally.
“Guys are running out of hours out in the middle of nowhere,” Keeler said in regard to those with ELD in place.
He also described many times when drivers arrive at their destination with plenty of time on their hours or service to unload. When unloading is delayed, a common occurrence, the drivers run out of hours being forced to spend their 10 hours off duty in the field.
Some of these trucks are called a ‘day cab’ which doesn’t have a sleeper for the driver, leaving the driver to leave the truck and hitch a ride to town for a hotel room, or violate the rules and sleep in the truck.
“The E-log (ELD) is just not designed for out in the middle of nowhere,” Keeler said Friday. “It’s designed for the long-haul driver, not the guy who’s local.”
Because of these issues, Keeler said he sold all his trucks made in 2000 or later and only run rigs that fall under the pre-2000 exemption.
“Guys are going to be fighting the clock, taking chances and ultimately be in violation,” he said. “When the E-log starts, you can’t stop it. You just have to go from there.”
The rigidity of the ELD’s is causing drivers to lose up to an hour of drive time a day, according to Keeler.
Part of this is because ELD’s round to the nearest 15-minute increment with a bias to reduce available driving time.
Another rounding issue brought up by drivers has been that 500-600 mile day trips will be pushed to two days if traffic or weather makes them even slightly behind schedule. This will leave them in the truck or hotel overnight, sometimes less than 


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