Electronic Logging Devices are Coming – The Effect on Drivers

Changes are coming to the trucking industry and drivers are afraid. It seems like every time we make changes in trucking, the driver gets the worst of it. Drivers always seem to be the ones who pay the price. Sometimes it is in the name of safety but always it results in a change of the drivers pay. When I say drivers I mean Driver Employees, Owner Operators and contract Drivers….anyone that operates a tractor trailer or straight truck.

ELD’s are coming. Will this time be any different?

When I talk to drivers they all tell me that they are deathly afraid that when the Electronic Logging Devices make it into law, their productivity will diminish and so will their pay. Knowing that a driver’s pay can’t buy the same bag of groceries as it did twenty or even ten years ago really puts this fear into the drivers. Most of them fear this coming change!

That being said, there is a group of drivers that don’t fear the change. Generally speaking, this smaller group is made up of the drivers that are already on some sort of ELD. They don’t fear the change because they have been forced into it already. Some drivers even chose the current carrier that they are working for because they had electronic logs. These are the drivers that had been abused by previous carriers and wanted to work according to the law. Maybe they had received a logbook ticket in the past and they have had enough.

I think the ELD’s are a positive game changer for all drivers. I certainly can understand a driver’s fear of change. If they look at the past they have every right to be afraid. But I do think that this time it will be different.

Here is what I see for change. The shippers will have to change how they do things the most and also the route planners. Whoever it is that is planning the shipments and the “Just on Time” deliveries are the people that will have to figure it out and plan ahead.  They will no longer be able to count on the driver to make up for lost time in the shipping schedule like the drivers have been able to do in the past.  So the shipper will have to plan ahead and figure things out long before they call the carrier to book the load.

Next group of problems will be for the dispatchers at the carrier. They will have to learn the truth about how much time it will take to make the delivery and again, not rely on the driver’s creativeness to get the load there on time. Dispatchers will have to know how to do route planning in real time. I think too many dispatchers believe that trucks average 100 kilometers per hour. So all they do is look at the load and say ‘Well if it is 1200 KM then the driver can get it there in 12 hours. He has an hour to spare in Canada!’  ELD’s will force the dispatchers to figure it out for a change and not just be an order taker.

So I see positive change ahead for the Drivers. They might even earn more money. I think that they will get paid for the waiting time spent in loading docks and get paid for the mistakes of shippers. Their overall income will go up and perhaps they will not have to run any extra miles for the dollars. At least that is my prayer. It is time to let the truck driver make an honest living at our profession.

I await your comments.

Stay safe.

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.