Category Archives: Trucking

How Virtual Reality Has Increased Trucking Safety

Some point to the fact that trucking accidents and fatalities have been on the rise in the past few years. Yet, it isn’t only the trucking industry that has seen a rise in workplace incidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies have been increasingly turning to virtual reality as an answer to increasing trucking safety measures and positively impacting their BASIC scores.

If there is one company that seems to be always at the forefront of change, it is UPS. They began using virtual reality (VR) as a supplement to their new truck driver safety exercises and it has yielded positive dividends where decreased accidents are concerned. With the economy improving and package deliveries rising, the company plans to use the program to train thousands of workers in 2018.

VR Safety Training Explained

The program UPS uses includes safety modules designed to help truck drivers notice road hazards, whether they be pedestrians, light poles, curbs, or other vehicles. The truck drivers that go through the training exercise wear a 360-degree virtual reality headset that gives them a front-to-back 360-degree field of view.

Not only does using these systems increase the caliber of training a fleet can offer, they are fun! In a time where the truck driver employee shortage seems to be more acute than ever, providing a gamificaton level of training that is both fun and educational is a definite draw for truck drivers looking for something special about a prospective employer.

Improving the overall safety measures of the trucking industry requires a collective effort. The motor carriers utilizing these systems is not limited to only dry van, reefer, or flat bed operators.

How will fleets operating industrial gas or other hazardous materials incorporate virtual reality into their training? Will the training extend to truck driver actions around the cab? What will be the range of movement that those in the program can expect?

Virtual reality provides those using the system with a way to train their muscle memory before they even step foot in the cab. Once they have gone through it enough times, the risk of accident is reduced. Think about this type of training in the way that a guitar player who practices regularly, whether for an audience or not, hones his or her skills over time.

Technology is the Answer

If there is one topic that seems to come up on a regular basis, it is how technology continues to change the trucking industry. VR simply adds to this paradigm. As computing power increases, VR allows users to overlay graphics, create real-world situations, emulate actual routes, learn how hazardous materials react under certain situations, and more.

When a truck driver can both see through an object and know that his or her decision related to said object is not a life-or-death one, it provides clear insight into how that operator will react in the heat of the moment.

VR systems provide a contextual understanding of objects and systems without the stress or worry of damaging critical components or causing an unnecessary problem. But are VR systems confined only to large fleets? Can smaller operators reap any benefit from these systems?

The answer is yes. With so many trucking companies out there looking for ways to both cut costs and grow their business, they are turning to technology as an answer. VR can play a pivotal role in increasing trucking safety and adding something unique to both fleet training and retention efforts.

As companies try to put a meaningful dent in the truck driver shortage, will technologies like VR be the answer. Some say yes. Either way, it appears that the use of VR systems within trucking applications will only rise over time.

New Guidelines Issued For Livestock Haulers

Livestock haulers face a unique set of challenges. It is ever-more important that they are able to operate safely on our nation’s roads and highways. Consider the impact that livestock haulers have in our economy. What we put on our table at night in large part relies on the job they do.

This is why some are wondering whether the new guidelines issues by the FMCSA are better for overall trucking safety and getting livestock from one place to the other or not. So, what changes has the FMCSA made?

Post on the agency’s website on the 24th of February, the new guidelines speak specifically to horse haulers. While the FMCSA stated that their new guidelines were meant to clarify confusion, some believe that there is still some level of confusion and concern.

The Details on the Guidance

It is a well-known secret that horse haulers have skated under the law enforcement’s radar when it comes to staying in conformity with rules and regulations regarding how long a truck driver can stay on the road, as well as the licensing requirements a truck driver must adhere to.

The new guidelines issued by the FMCSA are designed to provide exemptions for ELD and CDL truck drivers who transport horses and other animals to shows and events. The guidelines also cover transportation of non-livestock where events and shows are concerned.

What the FMCSA has done is basically allowed truck drivers who are transporting material for a non-business related reason to avoid HOS, ELD and CDL regulations. The exception here is if the truck driver’s home state has specific requirements surrounding the aforementioned. In those cases, the state rules will trump the federal rules.

Specifically, if a truck driver is transporting material to a show or event with a gross weight exceeding 26,001 pounds, the truck driver or fleet in question must comply with licensing, ELD, and other safety requirements the state has imposed for such forms of transportation.

It Started with Horses

All of this stemmed from the horse industry, which sent representatives to the DOT to find out whether they were exempted or included within current regulations surrounding truck drivers. The ELD Mandate itself sparked a big discussion within the horse hauling business about how their fleets and truck drivers would be treated.

In a letter sent to the DOT, the industry voiced frustration with the lack of clarifications surrounding current rules and regulations. They specifically outline the following as problems they have yet to see resolved:

  • Scope
  • Intent
  • Enforcement
  • Ramifications

What many people may not know is that the equine business has a $122 billion impact on the United States economy. That is a huge number, and highlights the potential influence this sector has on government policy.

The concern within the industry is that although the truck drivers in question do not transport these animals as part of a business, they fear they will be targeted under the current enforcement guidelines.

So many trucking companies involved in this sector have skin in the game and are lobbying hard, that the FMCSA has set up a specific website to address their concerns. Yet, not all of the questions have been answered.

Some are wondering if the FMCSA is circumventing safety regulations to satisfy an industry seeking clarification on specific guidelines. It is still too soon to make that distinction, but the fact remains, the guidelines set in place regarding hours of service and the ELD mandate were meant to apply to all operators of large commercial motor vehicles. Will exempting certain operators cause confusion or undue safety concerns? At this point only time will tell.

Removing The Risk From Trucking

As the trucking employee crunch gets worse by the day, many who are considering entering the profession wonder: Is trucking really safe? Look, we aren’t going to mince words or sugarcoat the matter. The fact is, truck drivers and those in passenger cars do get killed in trucking accidents every year. Trucking is a high-risk profession. Yet, if you operate your vehicle in a safe manner and keep essential safety tips in mind, there is no reason why you shouldn’t hit your million-mile mark without a blemish on your record or an injury on your mind.

There are specific steps professional truck drivers can take to ensure they stay safe on the road each and every day. Let’s go through each step, one-by-one.

Signaling By Sight

When you get to an intersection, are you signalling early to ensure the passenger vehicles around you know which way your truck will be turning well in advance? If not you may not be operating safely.

Slow Down

Are you slowing down before a complete stop is necessary? The last thing you want to do is try to come to a complete stop on a dime in an 80,000 pounds Class 8 commercial motor vehicle. Always remember how much time it takes for your vehicle to come to a complete stop. If you see brake lights ahead, this should be a sign to not take your time.

Avoid Lane Changes

Ask any professional truck driver and they will tell you that they do their best to avoid changing lanes. Since a tractor’s blind spots are so large, unnecessary lane changes present an unnecessary risk. Also, make sure you check your mirrors with a cursory glance on a regular basis (perhaps 10 – 15 seconds).

Lights and Flashers

When going through pre- or post-trip inspections, make sure you always check your headlights brake lights, and turn signals. This is the best way to avoid accidents. In situations where you have to drive slower than the posted speed limit, make sure to use your flashers to alert those on the road around you why you are driving slower than normal.

Parking Your Vehicle

When you are getting ready to park your vehicle, make sure you are aware of where your vehicle has room and clearance to park. There are generally specific garages set aside for commercial motor vehicles. Make sure you are never parked on the side of a roadway unless your tractor is disabled. And always do your best to never obstruct a motorist’s view of oncoming traffic, no matter where you are parked. Finally, NEVER park in oncoming traffic. If required, use flares or safety triangles to alert other drivers that your vehicle has been disabled.

Idling Your Vehicle

Always remember that idling your vehicle for more than five minutes represents an unnecessary waste of fuel. Whether you are sleeping. loading, unloading, or otherwise, make sure your vehicle is turned off. If you do need to idle for any reason, make sure your windows are closed. You can even wear a safety mask if necessary.

OTR Operation

If you are a long-haul trucker, there are extra safety rules to keep in mind. Although you can spend many hours on the road, make sure to avoid tailgating. Don’t let frustration creep in and cause a safety incident. If you are experiencing fatigue, make sure to stop, no matter what. And since you will be sitting for long periods of time, do not hesitate to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.

In the end, make sue you are keeping these principles in mind, and you will be sure to operate safely, year-after-year!

 

Is Platooning Really Safe?

Some are asking the critical question: Is it really safe for two Class 8 heavy duty commercial motor vehicles to tailgate one another? Many states across the country – and even globally – are currently weighing this very question. The emergence of platooning technology has ignited a safety debate where the questions remain elusive.

Companies pushing platooning technologies contend that the emergence of technologies that couple with vehicle-to-vehicle communications would allow digitally connected vehicles to follow each other at a close distance without any safety problems. This digital linking of trucks would allow the truck drivers to – not literally – take a back seat. Trucks would both accelerate and brake together.

Platooning Has Advantages

Platooning does save on fuel in many cases. It does this through a process called “slipstreaming,” which allows a vehicle to ride the wake of the vehicle immediately in front of it. Some say that when a truck rides the wake of a vehicle in front of it, fuel savings can amount to up to 10 percent. When you add those numbers up across the industry, you are looking at savings that add up to lots of money.

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 72 percent of fatalities involving a large commercial motor vehicle happened when the truck hit another passenger car. Platooning proponents contend that the technologies built into platooning systems may go a long way to reducing those numbers.

They say that the real-time data gathering techniques and near-instantaneous reactions made by the technology installed on the truck can respond even quicker than a human can. There are generally cameras and sensors placed around the vehicle. Others say it is this very technology that could prove dangerous.

Platooning Has Disadvantages

Safety advocates wonder if platooning tractor-trailers is really safe. When discussing the technologies that are used in platooning, they are generally connected through a GPS, cellular, or strong WiFi connection. What if there is a disruption in the connection during a critical safety event?

Another question surrounds what the optimal distance between each vehicle should be. If the optimal distance is too close, would that make platooning inherently unsafe? Seconds count when it comes to following too closely, and if a large commercial motor vehicle is following too closely, might a machine be able to make a decision fast enough? There are two sides to the argument.

Platooning is Coming

No matter what safety advocates or platooning companies or fleets think about the issue, it is already being tested and is likely to appear on a road near you sometime within the next decade. All the talk is on semi-autonomous trucks, and platooning is simply an extension of this technology. Allowing a machine or series of sensors connected to a central computing unit to control a heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle is a lot closer than one may think.

Fortunately, there will always be a place for a truck driver in the cab. Even if trucks are platooned, there is no guarantee that their reaction time will be enough, so a human hand will always be desired. Of course, the overall goal is to lower the number of those injured or killed on our nation’s roads, and if platooning can get that done, then many say, why not give it a try?

A lot more testing still needs to be done, and many states are hard at it. In the end, whether or not we will see platooning blossom, and in what form, will depend on the platooning tests currently underway in several states. As companies and municipalities team up to test the viability of these technologies, expect to hear a lot more about how safe or unsafe platooning is.

How Truck Driver Training Plays A Huge Impact On Fleet Safety

There is plenty of evidence, whether anecdotal or actual studies, that show how truck driver training plays a huge impact on overall fleet safety outcomes. How you train and communicate with your truck drivers – how you communicate to them and show their worth – will give them greater incentive, both implicit and explicit, to ensure they do a better job driving on our nation’s roads.

When a fleet focuses on proper training and communication, they are better able to manage the perceptions of those in their fleet. How valued your truck drivers – and others who operate in your fleet – feel will play a direct impact on not just their motivation, but your CSA scores and overall fleet safety measures.

Going Above and Beyond for Safety

The best motor carriers know that going above and beyond to ensure the safety of their operators goes beyond merely providing job training or offering a newfangled perk. We are talking about career professional truck drivers here. No matter what kind of truck they are driving or technology they are using, they want to feel safe in the cab, and even more, know that the operation of their vehicles is keeping those on the road around them safe, as well.

Is your fleet playing a positive role to utilize training – whether new or ongoing – to improve overall safety measures? When you add a competitive training package, combined with good pay and proper truck driver recognition, you build a truly successful strategy for the future. With retention and the trucking employment squeeze an ongoing problem, you want to make sure you are tapping into and developing the full potential of your people – and training plays a critical role in ensuring that success.

Using Communication as a Key

Are you properly communicating your fleet safety goals to your truck drivers through comprehensive training efforts? Are your fleet managers or fleet safety directors interacting positively with those on the front line? Everyone who interacts with those operating your fleet’s should be reinforcing the same safety message.

In many cases, a truck driver’s direct supervisor plays one of the most important roles in how a truck driver views safe commercial motor vehicle operation. It comes down to how well that front-line supervisor communicates a message of safety. Is the truck driver a new employee on the line, or are they an old hand in the fleet, well-experienced and ready to hit the road? The answer to those questions should drive your motor carrier’s overall approach to the safety question.

Using Your Truck Drivers in Innovative Ways

Since experienced truck drivers are often the best truck drivers and have the lowest turnover rates, some fleets have turned to using them as mentors. Why not pair an experienced truck driver with someone who has just come out of training?

Not only does this instill a greater sense of confidence in your newer truck drivers, but it gives your experienced truck drivers a greater sense of buy-in within the overall company hierarchy. Statistics prove this. You can both improve overall safety measures and increase truck driver retention and motivation all at the same time.

With fleet’s forced to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of truck drivers, it is important that they think outside the box on both how they can increase safety, plus improve their overall retention rate. The only way to raise overall confidence both within motor carriers and industry-wide, attention must be paid to how truck drivers, old and new, are communicated with and paired together for greater safety outcomes.

How GPS Tracking Improves Fleet Safety

When a company relies on a fleet of vehicles to keep business flowing smoothly, safety is key. While keeping a close eye on every truck driver and every vehicle in a fleet – especially a large one – is nearly impossible, there are methods a fleet can use to improve their safety measures. One such way is through GPS tracking.

When a motor carrier can track their truck drivers and their vehicles down to a pinpointed location, you can easily see where safety measures can be drastically improved, from the truck driver to the dispatcher level. GPS technology can also go a long way in improving coaching and retention among truck drivers.

Gaining New Insight

Here are some essential questions to ask yourself regarding the truck drivers in your fleet:

  • Do you know how your truck drivers are behaving while they are behind the wheel?
  • Are you confident they are properly operating your expensive fleet equipment?
  • Do you have easy access to the data you need to show the speeds and driving methods involved in company accidents?

If your answer was no to any of these questions, then you may need to consider a GPS fleet tracking solution as an answer to your problems. What if you could receive alerts any time regarding where your truck drivers are or what they are doing? This also goes a long way to preventing truck driver theft.

When you have access to customizable reports and dashboards that quickly allow you to access fleet summaries and other safety-related data, you can develop trends and benchmarks to assist you in creating a proper fleet safety policy.

Want to determine best practices or better influence truck driver behaviors? The best way to do that may be through an on board GPS system. But what can you expect – in tangible terms – from utilizing a fleet wide GPS system?

Lower Insurance Costs

Insurance companies love it when motor carriers invest in GPS systems. They take comfort in knowing that the fleet is monitoring truck driver behavior and going a long way to preventing cargo theft. When a motor carrier implements a GPS fleet tracking solution, they can often decrease insurance premium costs. Does your insurance provider offer a discount for utilizing these services? If so, you may want to consider investing in them. Move into the 21st century with these kinds of technologies.

Lower Maintenance Costs

Face it: Bad driving takes a toll on your fleet’s vehicles. The best way to mitigate aggressive driving is to monitor how your truck drivers are operating their vehicles. Utilizing GPS systems helps you keep track of the wear-and-tear your vehicles undergo. To prevent extensive and expensive repairs, GPS systems help you keep the situation under control.

Lower Fines and Increase CSA Scores

Speeding problems, traffic infractions and accidents not only lead to potential injuries and liability problems, but they can be quite costly. When you can monitor events like excessive speeding, hard braking, unsafe lane changes, and more, you have a better handle on the outcomes that impact the direct maintenance and upkeep of your valuable investments.

Reducing Liability

From dangerous truck driving behavior to stolen cargo to unhealthy vehicles, all of these can play a role in negatively impacting your motor carrier’s bottom line. Why play with fate like that when you can use a fleet wide GPS system to directly impact those outcomes?

Your reputation is also at stake. When shippers, brokers, and other outfits you do business with feel comfortable knowing you are investing in technology that protects your business, they will be more inclined to trust the business you do with them. Why leave your bottom line to a hopeful wish and a prayer. Invest in GPS and do more than hope for the best.

 

Will The ELD Mandate Result In A Higher Grocery Bill?

If there is one thing the ELD mandate was designed to do, it was to improve safety among truck drivers. Of course, it was also designed to prevent fleets and trucking companies from getting hit with errors in paper logbooks, but safety – in relation to hours of service – was also a big driver for the mandate.

Yet now, trucking companies and agriculture trucking companies in particular are saying that everyday consumers could see their grocery prices rise as a result of the new ELD mandate. But does this view bear fruit – pun intended?

Many truckers say the problem stems from the fact that truck drivers are experiencing problems as they switch from paper logbooks to ELD devices. With the ELD mandate designed to keep truck drivers honest about their time on the road, and thus make the roads safer overall, there are unintended consequences, as with any new rule or regulation.

Not Enough Distance

The ELD mandate results in inevitable delays, which means truck drivers simply aren’t covering as much distance or delivering as many loads as they used to. Whether it be in California or Arizona, when less produce is getting to the endpoint, while demand continues to increase, the laws of supply-and-demand create an environment ripe for price increases.

Before the ELD mandate, truck drivers recorded their hours manually. And while may of them did not intentionally falsify their hours, they did have greater flexibility in how those hours were recorded. As an example, if a truck driver was stuck in traffic, or sat behind a construction zone far longer than expected, they may not have recorded that as driving time.

Another example could be a truck driver who knew they were reaching the 11-hour driving limit, but decided to push it just a little longer in order to find a safe place to have a rest. Of course, by the letter of the law, these practices were not legal, but when using a paper log, truck drivers were able to balance road safety with business interest.

Compliance is still a necessary part of a truck driver’s job, and the ELD mandate ensures that, but unintended side effects do occur. As an example, one 12-store grocery chain in the Midwest has seen the cost of goods roughly double since the ELD mandate came into effect. While the company has, for the most part, been able to absorb the cost, items like bananas and lettuce have gone up by 20 percent.

Is it the Device’s Fault?

While trucking industry companies and advocacy organizations undertake studies to determine the safety efficacy of the ELD mandate, many are wondering where the new rules will take us. It appears, at least in the short term, it may be higher prices.

Fleets are concerned that truck drivers who are delayed may try to drive faster in order to make up for lost ground. Will this cause unneeded safety problems? Consider that the amount of time a truck driver can drive has not changed. What has changed is how that time is measured.

With some farms and agricultural providers stating that they are already seeing unintended consequences, prices in the grocery store may be going up. How will this translate into consumer sentiment, no one yet knows.

Gone are the days when truck drivers could “use their best judgement” to determine when it was safe to pull over, depending on road conditions. If prices for every day goods go up at an unsustainable rate, will we see a regulatory backlash against such measures?

 

The FMCSA Embarks On A New Testing Initiative

In 2017, the FMCSA decided to scrap several new rules and regulations set to go into effect governing safety initiatives. Yet, this year, they aren’t just ignoring safety. They have embarked on many tests and studies designed to figure out why truck fatalities on our nation’s roads are on the rise.

Today, we will look at the different safety tests and initiatives the FMCSA is undertaking to bring some clarity to the situation. With technology on the mind and the future approaching, they want to know if the trucking industry can remain safe in the face of near-constant change.

Testing Autonomous Technology

The first area the FMCSA is looking to test and come to a better conclusion on is that of autonomous trucking. The FMCSA believes that autonomous and semi-autonomous technologies may go a long way to significantly reducing crashes and injuries. With trucking accidents on the rise, the agency doesn’t seek to displace the truck driver, but rather bring a new level of safety to trucking through automation.

With autonomous and semi-autonomous trucking on everyone’s mind, a potential revolution is around the corner. Several studies underway in a few states are being implemented with the FMCSA’s implicit backing, including those in Ohio and Nevada.

Still, with autonomous truck driving now entering a critical evaluation phase, what’s next for the FMCSA when it comes to testing and evaluation?

Incremental Changes on the Horizon

While the FMCSA doesn’t plan to revisit many of the Obama administration’s trucking rules, they may make some minor adjustments to the rules currently in place. And while there won’t be a new safety rating system overhaul coming any time soon, the FMCSA is beginning a two-year-long study examining whether the safety measurement system (SMS) is doing what it was intended to do.

The FMCSA is also going to look at changes and ways to strengthen industry cybersecurity and increase adoption of certain safety technologies, from better braking systems to complementary technologies to increase the awareness of areas where truck drivers can both rest and take a break in case they are bumping up against their hours.

Still, these are merely tests, methods by which the agency can make better determinations regarding future rules. Since the Trump administration has embarked on a mission to remove lots of regulations, it is likely that these initiatives will remain in the testing phase until more concrete data can be discerned.

Is the Economy to Blame

One of the primary factors why comprehensive testing is required can be traced back to an improving economy. As the nation’s economic conditions have gotten better, more trucks are on the road, which itself can lead to more accidents. To determine if the problem is with the volume of trucks or something else, the FMCSA has embarked on these new testing regimes.

Evidence of a potential economic component can be seen in the fact that from 2006 to 2009, there was an overall decline in fatal accidents involving trucks. There could also be a correlation between the number of new truck drivers on the road and the increase in accidents.

Yet, as the federal government gets ready to take up a new debate surrounding state’s rights, infrastructure, and so much more, the trucking industry and related issues are going to come into more focus. Will safety be at the top of the minds of those making the regulatory decisions? The only way to find out is to see what 2018 brings. And we can promise we will be right here reporting on it for you.

How Tanker Specs Can Improve Overall Trucking Safety

In todays trucking safety blog, we want to look at the specific changes happening within the tanker manufacturing industry that specifically impact truck driver and passenger vehicle safety. There are many reasons why this is important. Consider that motor carriers today typically keep their tank trailers for a very long time. As a result, they want to get the most out of these expensive pieces of equipment.

Yet, getting the most bang for their buck isn’t the only thing truck tank manufacturers are focused on. Tanker safety is key. But why is a focus on this aspect of trucking so important? Consider that things change every year. Whether it be a new design on the upper coupler or new and improved landing gear, you must stay on top of what your vendors are designing.

Long life is important, but equally important is fuel efficiency and safety.

What Makes a Safe Tanker Design?

If there is one sector of trucking looking closest at tanker safety, it is the hazmat sector. While tanker fleets tend to look for the best technologies, they are also looking for the safest. While roll stability is the most obvious choice, there are tractor specs that also go a long way in improving a tanker’s safety profile. These include antilock and air disc brakes.

The greatest concern for a tanker lies in the roll over concern. While roll stability and a lower center of gravity help, roll stability control has increasingly become a popular option. For many tank manufacturers, roll stability now comes standard with the tanker.

Tanker fleets looking to further improve their safety measures are seeing client motor carriers increasingly ask for air disc breaks as a way to improve safety measures. While spec’ing advanced braking technology can present a bit of an upcharge in the beginning, these technologies generate big returns when it comes to safety in the long run.

Where lighting is concerned, active driver safety technologies like extra turn signals and high wattage mounted lights provide an answer. Motor carriers operating tankers in high numbers, from 400 on up, see increased safety benefits when they utilize these technologies.

Well-designed and aesthetically pleasing lighting systems also signal to potential clients that your fleet takes safety (and looking good) seriously. When a tanker is equipped with a bright LED that contains to filaments, shines brightly, and looks good, the motor carrier addresses several goals.

Addressing your Wheels

One aspect of tanker safety that is oft-overlooked is that of the tires carrying the tanker. Tankers are often quite heavy, which means most tanker fleets look to aluminum wheels and wide-base tires. Yet, sometimes this setup isn’t the most advantageous.

Many wide-base single tires utilize automatic tire inflation systems, which cause leakage concerns. Tankers require an utmost level of safety. While some wide-base tire manufacturers have come a long way in alleviating these concerns, they must still weigh them against tire wear, fuel economy, and inspection results.

Another area receiving greater focus is that of lift axle usage. Pneumatic tanks retrofitted with lift axles make sense because these operators don’t have a lot of backhauls, which results in greater safety, increased fuel economy, and greater truck driver satisfaction.

The most important part of increasing tanker safety lies in collaboration. Engineers and salespeople from both the manufacturing and fleet management realms must get together and help each other figure out the most effective ways to increase tanker safety. There are so many variables, which seem to change constantly, so ensuring you are on the right side of change ensures greater safety outcomes for your tanker fleet.

The Big Guns Weigh In Post-ELD Enforcement Date

Well trucking industry professionals, the day has come and gone, so how do you feel? Does the fact that the ELD mandate is real and right now change the way you do business? If not, it should. Whether we like it or not, living with the ELD mandate is now a part of everyday life for trucking companies and owner-operators.

And with the date come and gone, some big voices within the trucking industry are weighing in on this new paradigm. American Trucking Associations (ATA) Vice-President for Advocacy Bill Sullivan recently remarked that trucking companies, many of whom are ATA members, can now put the mandate in their review mirror and focus their attention on tomorrow’s issue of the day.

Still, as he went on to point out, many within the ATA and industry believe the data gathered from ELD usage will dramatically change how trucking companies do business, from safety, efficiency and logistical standpoints. In the end, being able to detect technical errors or prevent truck driver harassment are both good things. If the ELD mandate is now the law of the day, trucking companies will have to adapt to it one way or another. Is your fleet ready?

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear was also quoted saying the following:

“The time has finally come to retire decades-old, burdensome paper logs that consume countless hours and are susceptible to fraud and put the safety of all motorists first. The benefits of this rule exceed the costs by more than $1 billion, making it a rule the ATA can firmly support and easily adopt. Today marks the start of a new era of safety and efficiency for our industry and we thank the champions in the Department of Transportation and Congress who have gotten us to this point.”

In later statements, Spear went on to state that his organization believes the ELD will further validate trucking companies who are operating within the hours-of-service guidelines and take compliance very seriously. He cites the potential for less accidents, better safety scores, and an overall increased benefit for truck drivers, fleets, law enforcement and other interested parties.

Adding to the list of voices advocating that the industry accept this change and learn how to embrace it is the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) association, which recently expressed its satisfaction that the mandate has now taken effect.

In their released statement, NTTC President Daniel Furth was quoted saying the following:

“The technology ultimately strengthens the partnership between carriers and shippers by prioritizing safety and compliance in the era of well-documented capacity constraints in the trucking industry. More importantly, ELDs offer professional tank truck drivers–particularly owner-operators–the ability to better manage day to day workloads, ensure accurate pay practices, and improve CSA scores. I think it’s critical to note that ELDs don’t change the existing hours of service rules, they just ensure compliance with those rules which should be the common goal of drivers, carriers, and shippers alike.”

Still, that doesn’t mean everyone is happy. The Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and other trucking interests continue to voice their dissatisfaction. Fortunately, there is a soft enforcement period in effect now through April 1, 2018. Although truck drivers still using paper logs will be facing a potential citation if they are caught, the violation will will not be recorded to their CSA scores until after the April 1 soft enforcement implementation period.

Now the question is, what kind of safety impact can trucking companies, passenger drivers, and others on the road expect from the ELD mandate? Certainly some are happy and some are mad, but as long as people are operating safely and effectively, change isn’t always a bad thing.