Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner
Despite short-term productivity losses, analysts said ELDs can help fleets address detention time more directly with shippers.

ELD deadline passes without fanfare but brings detention time into focus

April 16, 2018
Economist suggests capacity crunch to ease by next year.

Data from early April appear to suggest the “hard enforcement” deadline for use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) was not nearly as significant an event as the initial December implementation date.

Analysts and industry executives attending the annual meeting of the Transportation Intermediaries Association in California last week said the mandate has helped fuel a historic capacity crunch, but the situation should ease in the coming quarters. In the meantime, shippers, some struggling to find enough trucks, are placing a new emphasis on reducing detention time.

Apart from hiring drivers, detention the biggest operational issue facing most carriers, said Michael Riccio, chief marketing officer of Leonard’s Express. And information gleamed from ELDs offer “more credibility” when raising the issue with shippers.

“ELDs are the single biggest advancement to address detention time ever,” Derek Leathers, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises, told Fleet Owner. Truckers can prove how much time they were stuck at a loading dock, and “get paid as they deserve to get paid if they are delayed.”

Darren Hawkins, president and chief operating officer of YRC Worldwide, said the current capacity crunch “has prompted a move in the right direction" by shippers and brokers.   

Noel Perry, senior economist for Truckstop.com, agreed ELDs allow fleets to more easily discover the “difference between good and bad loads, and who is holding you up at the dock.” 

Perry and Mark Montague of DAT Solutions said the statistics on freight rates and loads-to-trucks indicate the April deadline did not cause the same type of spike as the initial Dec. 18 implementation date of the ELD mandate.

Montague pointed out the string of hurricanes in 2017 provided more of a shock to the spot market than the April ELD deadline. He also said there remains no evidence of a significant percentage of owner-operators exiting the industry in protest against ELDs.

Looking ahead, Perry classified the current capacity crunch as a “short-lived event” due to the innovation of the industry.

“Because you are all good business people, you learn how to solve problems,” Perry said. “You will solve the ELD problem between now and next year.”

Combined with a push to hire more truckers, “favorable market conditions are going to disappear,” Perry predicted.

He projected a slowdown in the economy is possible by 2019 and quite likely by 2020. DAT’s Montague was a bit more optimistic on 2019, noting that the ratio of loads-to-trucks is still moving higher, and he does not believe all spot market rates have peaked. 

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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