In an ongoing effort to make the roads a safer place, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented a mandate on Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) which went into effect December of last year. ELDs were mandated with (at the highest level) a goal of helping professional drivers prepare hours-of-service (HOS), establish supporting documents that drivers and carriers are required to keep and prohibit the harassment of drivers based on ELD data or connected technology.
On the surface the, ELD mandate had the best of intentions, but was greeted with widely varying opinions on the new regulations, processes and policies. With the goal of learning more about how ELDs are impacting professional drivers, we asked you, our valued UltraONE members, what you thought about the ELD “experience” through a survey. And we wanted to hear it all – the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. And you gave us an earful! We combined your comments into the eight key takeaways from the eyes and ears of the road.
- The love-hate relationship: Analysis of surveys show that the words “love” “hate” “good” and “bad” all returned with approximately the same number of occurrences. In a survey that yielded nearly 2,000 responses, results lead us to believe that only time will make the ELD mandate easier to swallow.
- Buy-in occurred (at times) well before the mandate: Many of you commented that you were using ELDs years before they were required, in some cases even a decade or more. Of note is that ELDs were preferred because it removed the need to keep paper logs and helped keep drivers in compliance with regulations against sometimes more financially driven dispatchers.
- The “efficiencies” of ELDs are not very efficient: Regardless of feelings on the idea of ELDs, drivers are feeling frustrated by the technology of ELDs and some of the promised efficiencies that aren’t actually functioning as expected. Much like any first-release technology, it is expected that functionality and efficiency will increase with time.
- ELDs have wings?: When preparing this survey, TA-Petro wasn’t aware that ELDs could fly. Many drivers responded that they were planning to open their windows and turn them loose. In face, we were amazed by the number of creative suggestions for what to do with ELDs, including using them for target practice, using them as speed bumps and pitching them out the aforementioned window.
- Drivers do not want to be micro-managed: Not only do drivers feel like someone is telling them how to live or how their body will react to long hauls, they also feel like they’re being lumped in as a part of the machine. Drivers are people who have families who want to earn an honest living. They are married couples who drive as a way of leisurely travel the country. They may be biorhythmically challenged and cannot simply fall asleep at 10pm. ELDs are making them feel like they are merely children who need a babysitter.
- Time is precious: Drive time and downtime coupled with the pressures of dispatches are causing some drivers a bit of anxiety. On top of that, things out of their control like shippers and receivers, traffic and accidents cut into their drive time. Not to mention that when their day concludes it can be abrupt due to mandates enforced by the ELD so parking can be a real challenge.
- Cash is king: Drivers want to feel like they’re in control of their destiny and pocketbook, much like everyone else. While ELDs are keeping drivers off the road for the mandated 10 hours per day it is at times being viewed that their income is being slashed. Additionally, drivers have to pay for the equipment and maintenance of the ELDs.
- Look, there’s my house…: A major drawback in ELDs tracking driver’s time is that drivers are sometimes nearing their homes after a long day but are unable to physically drive there due to drive-time mandates of 14 hours per day. To put this in perspective, imagine being 30 minutes from you house but you can’t get there because you’ve already logged 14 of 14 hours that day. This and other factors can cause drivers to speed which creates unsafe conditions for others on the road which is being viewed as a byproduct of ELDs.
Thanks to our winners for submitting such great and thoughtful surveys. We will be in touch shortly!
- Kenneth W. said, "Been using them now for five years. They have their moments when you want to throw them out the window, but there are more positives than negatives. Dispatch can't make you drive when tired. You know each time you stop it will be a full 10 hour break. Also the DOT tends to leave you alone more."
- Mark K. SR said, "I started my driving career in June of 1979. My father showed me everything he knew or at least everything he thought I would need to succeed. Many miles have passed through these eyes of mine. I didn't think the electronic logs would work for me. Well I'll admit this. I was totally wrong. I can manage my time and be much more productive... Oh and I made more money too."
- John C. said, "Twice my ELD has prevented me from getting home. Any O.T.R. driver knows how precious home time can be. So to have to take a 10 (hour) break a couple of hours from home can be anything but restful."