If you are a trucker, you know that the regulations around hauling semi trailers loaded with goods and materials around the country changed significantly in late 2017. That’s when most in the industry were required to start using electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track the operation of their rigs.

Often referred to as the ELD mandate or ELD rule, it requires trucking companies to replace paper logs and also earlier Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) with advanced and automated ELD technology. The goal of the legislation is, of course, to increase safety in the trucking industry and thereby protect both truckers and the other drivers that share the road with them.

As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states: “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.”

In particular, the key points are that the rule:

  • Requires ELD use by commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS).
  • Sets ELD performance and design standards, and requires ELDs to be certified and registered with FMCSA.
  • Establishes what supporting documents drivers and carriers are required to keep.
  • Prohibits harassment of drivers based on ELD data or connected technology (such as fleet management system). The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

However, you may recall that in the period leading up to the ELD mandate, many in the trucking industry were concerned about its impact. Related industries—like semi trailer rentals—had their concerns, as well. In fact, some veteran truckers and outside observers predicted a mass exodus of drivers and entire businesses from the industry.

ELDs in 2021 and Beyond

Today, three years into the ELD mandate, it seems that the more dire of predictions didn’t come to pass. There may have been some driver or trucking company attrition, but generally speaking, transportation demand, and the desire to meet it, have stayed strong, and businesses have stayed profitable despite new challenges.

That said, the logging requirement has certainly had an impact on the trucking industry. For example, in some instances, productivity has declined, such as when what would previously have been a one-day trip is now a two-day trip because the driver reached the end of his or her allowable hours before reaching their destination.

But the ELD rule has provided some benefits beyond increased safety to trucking companies, as well. For instance, prior to the mandate, drivers often felt that shippers and receivers had a large degree of control over their schedule. Businesses would frequently make them wait in detention for hours at a time to load or unload their semi trailer.

Carriers would, understandably, bill them for that time, but a careful cost analysis showed that this charge typically did not cover their lost revenue. With the ELD mandate somewhat forcing their hand, truckers can now say, “I just can’t wait four hours for you to load my rig.” In other words, it has given them leverage they did not previously have.

Looking Ahead: Will Elements of the ELD Mandate Change?

The ELD mandate, like all legislation, is subject to change. Regulations tend to evolve for a number of reasons, including advances in technology, changes in public sentiment and the shifting makeup of legislative bodies and their particular priorities.

So, following the 2020 election, as with any election, there are questions about ELDs and some of the waivers that exist. For example, truckers who haul livestock and insects have been operating under an exemption of certain provisions of the ELD mandate granted by Congress. Will that exemption remain in effect going forward? Time will tell.

Semi trailer leasing and rental companies like Boxwheel are just as eager as other industry stakeholders to find out, of course. Increases or decreases in shipping volume—whether by trucking companies or businesses that transport their own goods—ultimately affects the demand for rented semi trailers.

Operational Changes Prompted by ELDs

Another area where the ELD mandate is affecting transportation businesses is a shift to time-based driver pay. While mileage has traditionally been the measure used to determine compensation, time is now becoming a bigger factor.

Increasingly, trucking companies are using time-based measurements to create new pay models. This is occurring because ELDs give decision makers more visibility into how time is being spent during the 14-hour duty cycle, whether it is being used wisely or wastefully and how that should affect compensation.

ELDs and Our Neighbor to the North

Even as everyone from trucking companies to semi trailer rental businesses continue to adapt to ELDs here in the U.S., Canada has now mandated their use—a requirement that will go into effect later this year.

And by many accounts, Canada’s implementation of its regulations is not currently on track to meet the June 12 deadline. Needless to say, there will be some interesting conversations and commiseration between U.S. and Canadian drivers at truck stops near the border in the months ahead!

Take Semi Trailer Availability Out of the Equation

There are many issues trucking companies and businesses that transport their own goods have to contend with. One requirement that doesn’t have to be problematic is ensuring access to the semi trailers you need. Establishing a relationship with Boxwheel means you have a reliable source of high-quality semi trailers for rent or lease that can help you accommodate surges in demand quickly and efficiently without having to buy additional equipment. It is a very flexible and cost-effective approach to meeting your semi trailer needs.

Contact us at your convenience or browse our website to learn more about our inventory of dry van trailers, liftgate trailers, flatbeds and refrigerated trailers for rent or lease. You should also note our hassle-free, three-step process for getting the equipment you require.

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