There are some grumblings among truck drivers regarding how the ELD mandate is impacting their pay and the way they operate on the job. Truck drivers from the pre-ELD era might drive for eight hours, take a four to six hour nap while the truck was unloaded, then drive for another four hours or so before stopping overnight for sleep.
In Practical Use
With the ELD mandate in place, scenarios like that are no longer possible. With the 11 hour limit, some truck drivers feel like it is cutting into their pay. Consider how truck drivers are usually paid: by the mile. When the trucker is not out on the road within the allotted time, it cuts into how many hours they can stay on the road.
Even more, the truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break every eight hours, even if they just spent half the time at an unloading site waiting for their cargo to be pulled off. When you add up all this time, you can see how much a truck driver being paid by the mile can lose.
Compounding the problem, there is a safety issue associated with these concerns. Since most truck drivers are operating on a similar schedule – since they all must comply with the same ELD regulations – they all wind up taking their 10-hour breaks at the same time, resulting in a parking nightmare.
Reports of truck drivers having difficulties finding safe places to park abound. Some openly wonder whether this is defeating the entire purpose of the mandate, which was to improve trucking safety. There has been some uptick in red zone cargo thefts since the mandate went into effect. Certainly, there is nothing to prove correlation or causation, but the trend is there.
What Are the Concerns?
Although the ELD mandate is still relatively young, there is now enough data to provide an initial assessment of how it has effected the trucking industry. According to a recent industry study, productivity is down since implementation, all while the cost of shipping has continued to rise.
While the theory underlying the ELD mandate was sound – that truck drivers were working longer hours to make more money, which could post a safety concern. No one wants truck drivers to operate while they are too fatigued.
Yet, the problem lies in the fact that the Hours of Service rules have remained largely unchanged for nearly a century.
Truck drivers are starting to openly worry whether or not the ELD device usage is creating an unsafe operating environment for them. Some refer to it as a constant race to beat the clock. Some truckers report trying to race to their destination before the mandatory breaks kick in.
Losing Experienced Truck Drivers
The simple fact is this: Money matters. Trucking as a career will become less lucrative for truck drivers who are paid by the mile. A rookie truck driver can expect to bring in around 27 cents a mile. Experienced truck drivers could expect around 44 cents per mile.
Studies done on the impact the ELD mandate has had on truck driver pay shows that there is potential for the average long haul truck driver to lose upwards of $14,000 per year as a result of the new methodology.
With the truck driver shortage already an acute problem, the trucking industry cannot afford an exodus of experienced truckers. Fleets need all the help they can get recruiting, training, and retaining truckers of the future. Will the ELD mandate wind up helping or hurting their cause? Right now, only time will tell.