Small Independent Trucking Businesses Especially Worry About New Government ELD Mandate

Truck Drivers Across the Country Holding ELD Protests

A new mandate is set to take effect for trucking companies this month, requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in every vehicle. And some truckers and business owners aren’t happy about the change, some even organizing ELD protests across the country. The concern seems especially of concern to small trucking firms because of the cost of compliance.

The devices are meant to ensure drivers maintain safe driving practices, monitoring time on the road and the speeds they drive. The mandate, which was actually passed four years ago, with the actual rules being finalized two years ago, is set to go into effect on December 18. But the government is also phasing in its enforcement efforts, so it won’t be fully enforced until April 1, 2018.

Sell Your Business

Drive Traffic to Your Website

Discover the Zoho Ecosystem

Opponents of the mandate say that ELDs can actually lead to more safety risks, causing drivers to speed through low speed areas to make up for any traffic jams or issues that cause them to slow down on highways. It could also lead to a loss of money for truckers and productivity for trucking businesses due to the strict rules about how long the vehicle must be parked between shifts. If the driver has to just move the truck a short distance during their rest time, for example, it could reset the clock.

However, not everyone is convinced that this is a negative for the industry. Brian Fielkow is the president and CEO of Jetco Delivery, a trucking company that has been using ELDs for years. While he acknowledges the upfront cost involved in adopting the technology can be a bigger deal for smaller trucking firms, he thinks that the safety benefits and improved productivity more than make up for it.

Fielkow said in an interview with Small Business Trends, “This is a regulation where everyone wins. It levels the playing field and makes sure that everyone is playing by the same set of rules.”

Though there are some costs involved in getting the devices in place and maintaining them, Fielkow likened it to regular truck maintenance and replacement of parts. Additionally, since the alternative to ELDs is keeping paper records, Fielkow says the improved productivity could more than make up for any cost involved.

Small Business Deals

Of course, anything that impacts the trucking industry could also impact any business that ships products across North America. Fielkow believes that the electronic logging system will lead to easier tracking and improved transparency, which will benefit ecommerce businesses especially. However, opponents of the change think the stricter rules could lead to higher shipping costs, due to the potential loss of driving times for truckers.

Image: Amil Freight/Instagram 3 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions
  1. Brian is right on! However, doesn’t, quite go far enough, the reason fleets don.t want to track their drive time electronically is because with a paper and pencil they can cheat. Technology is only enforcing the current rules. Fleets have had 4 years to prepare, this is not new, and the current backlash is totally unfounded in any facts regarding Truck Safety. The industry will be safer when all Truckers are on an equal playing field, the Shippers can,t rely on some Fleets to meet unrealistic transit times with paper logs, and compliant ELD fleets cannot. Business will Change, for the better,

  2. The core issue here is that each driver is different and every person has unique skills and abilities. However, they have to set a standard and there will inevitably be people who are just on the wrong side of the line (of no fault of their own). There will also be negative consequences as they’ve pointed out. The question is whether the industry as a whole is improved by the rules and that calculation needs to consider the small, independent truckers as well as the big carriers.