Dec. 19–Hollywood movies and classic country music often portray independent truck drivers as rebels and outlaws.
There could be some truth to that — with maybe “procrastinator” and “technology phobic” thrown in — since it’s estimated that only about 75 percent of U.S. truckers from smaller companies met Monday’s deadline to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) after being put on notice two years ago by the federal government to replace their paper log books.
Big trucking companies and the American Trucking Association have embraced the federal ELD mandate, saying it will make trucking safer. But independent truckers have held demonstrations against the rule and even used the Twitter hashtag #ELDorMe to get the attention of President Donald Trump who tweeted in May: “ELD’s are very unfair. Truckers voted for me, so mark my words. I will end the ELD mandate.”
The ELD mandate should be a boon for big trucking companies, such as Chattanooga- based U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport, but not so great for freight brokers here, such as Coyote Logistics, said Craig Fuller, the founder of TransRisk. It’s a startup business in Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood that aims to turn the cost of shipping goods by truck into a commodity — like oil, coal and electricity — that can be traded on futures markets.
“Today’s the day, so we’ll see what happens,” Fuller said Monday, when the ELD mandate kicked in. “The large guys — the U.S. Xpresses and the Covenants, will do exceptionally well.”
Fuller predicted freight brokers will struggle in the new environment because they’re “dependent on these small trucking companies that have not been [ELD]-compliant.”
The statistic that ELD compliance is only 75 percent in trucking companies with fleets of between five and 100 trucks comes from a one-of-a-kind survey done by Tulsa, Okla.-based CarrierLists.com, a company that supplies trucking company information to shippers and brokers.
“Part of that [resistance] is older people who are set in their ways,” said Kevin Hill, president and founder of CarrierLists.
That said, a lot of truck drivers fudge the numbers on their paper logs, he said.
The real enforcement comes April 1, Hill said. Then, trucks without ELDs can be put out of service for 12 hours.
The ELD mandate will increase the cost of trucking,” he said.
“It will take away the ‘over hours.’ It will limit how you can drive outside the hours of service,” Hill said. “Your miles a day a driver can drive will shrink which will reduce capacity. Supply and demand: It will drive up rates.”
CarrierList’s survey was done in partnership with Chattanooga-based The Kenco Group, which calls itself one of the U.S.’s largest family-owned, privately-held third party logistics and supply chain management companies.
Fuller said it will take a while for the ELD mandate to affect the cost of shipping by truck.
“Typically, January and February are soft, anyway,” Fuller said. “I think what will happen is around April, I think you will see a significant capacity crunch.”
Fuller, who’s a member of the family that owns U.S. Xpress, predicted the ELD mandate will really help Covenant Transport, because it’s got a relatively high percentage of team drivers. Teams, such as a husband-and-wife, can put in longer hours and cover more miles by taking turns behind the wheel.
“Companies like Covenant which have a large number of teams should do exceptionally well,” Fuller said.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or on Twitter @meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.
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