With less than six weeks until the Dec. 18 deadline for fleets to install mandatory electronic logging devices, one survey indicates there will be a lot of smaller fleets that are at risk for citations and fines – or who will give up on the industry altogether.
“It looks like the run up to the deadline in six weeks will be quite chaotic,” said Kevin Hill, president and founder of CarrierLists, which publishes a weekly survey of carrier readiness for the ELD mandate.
Its Nov. 3 survey of 1,900 carriers showed only 40% of fleets running five to 100 tractors are compliant already or have started the process of installing ELDs – although its two-week rolling average of 46% shows install rates are accelerating.
In early October, the survey showed only 23% of fleets operating 5 to 100 trucks had or were in the process of installing ELDs.
“Think about it. 30 working days left for 60% of small fleets to take action, or face fines and safety violations until April 1,” Hill said. (Drivers and fleets won’t be put out of service for not having ELDs until that date.)
Can they get there in time?
Those who are in a last-minute scramble to meet the deadline may find it difficult to become compliant in the short time remaining.
Eric Witty with PeopleNet recently told HDT in an interview, “it seems … there’s going to be a pretty large number of people that aren’t going to have product” come December. “With all the new vendors, maybe there’s enough supply out, there but it sure seems like there’s a lot of people still waiting. If they all wake up on Dec 5 and say, ‘I need something,’ it could be an interesting rush to figure out how to get everyone supplied. We planned ahead and ramped up production [but] I’m pretty sure we can’t handle all the demand in the market.”
Teletrac Navman General Manager Daren Lauda noted that his company has seen “a real spike” in customer interest in the last few months. “Customers are concerned about what enforcement will be post-Dec. 18, and worried if they are too late already, because installer networks are getting strapped – we’re hearing two- and three-week waiting times. I’ve heard of vendors refusing to give demos at this point, telling them to just look at an online webinar. I think we’re seeing a really [large]... last-minute audience trying to get their solution in place.”
In addition to installing the devices, carriers also need to implement procedures and policies, and train drivers and back-officer personnel on some of the rules specific to the ELD mandate, such as those put in place to address concerns about harassment and coercion.
Look for rates to climb
The low rate of ELD adoption for smaller carriers will affect the entire industry. Some of the smallest carriers are expected to exit the industry entirely as a result of the mandate.
“Anything less than 100% adoption will likely ripple through the trucking market in a tidal wave,” Hill said. “Even at 90% compliance, it will create chaos with capacity and rates, until supply meets up with demand again.”
Andrew Lockwood with 3PL Kenco Group, in an analysis of CarrierLists’ numbers, said the fact that many smaller carriers are procrastinating on obtaining ELDs “could abruptly impact pricing and capacity to close out 2017, taking full effect in Q1 2018.”
He pointed out that according to the American Trucking Associations, 97% of carriers operate fewer than 20 power units, and with over 586,000 for-hire carriers on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, “that means that as many as 380,000 carriers aren’t ELD-ready. Given the sample size and number of carriers on file, we can say with a high degree of confidence that fewer than half of the operating carriers in the United States are ready for this change.”