ELD Mandate VS Detention: Customer Challenges and Time Management
One of the most talked about aspects of ELD mandate is the immense disruption it is set to cause in functional hours of truck drivers across the US. Because ELD automates the recording of working hours of drivers, the mandate is arguably the first milestone towards regulating the detention time of the drivers, i.e. the unproductive hours that drivers spend on duty waiting to be loaded/unloaded. Regulating detention time will result in significant challenges in terms of customer service and time management. Here’s how.
Real Productive Hours of Drivers Come Down
Truck loading and unloading do not always go exactly as planned. Sometimes, frequently, there are delays. Drivers don’t like this either. The detention time they spend waiting could have been spent doing productive, revenue generative work, like driving. Today, some drivers receive detention time compensation, but not always and it is often disputed and argued by customers. Drivers do get some rest during this period, which refreshes them for work once the loading and unloading is completed, but usually, the time isn’t enough to reset their clock or constitute as a rest period.
Historically, some drivers have used this break and their refreshed state, to continue driving beyond the permitted number of hours and reflect the hours under an incorrect status so they can continue driving. However, an electronic logging device’s change everything. Every driving status and movement of the vehicle is recorded. If the drivers say that they spent time on duty, not driving, the electronic logbook of ELDs will have recorded the exact longitude, and latitude at the time when the drivers spent their detention time. Thus, the time gets promptly added to their work hours, which has to be less than 70 hours a week. This is true for all FMCSA compliant ELDs that are available in the market.
Drivers cannot escape the scope of this mandate by saying that somebody else was driving the truck at the warehouse. Even if the truck moves from its location to the garage for regular maintenance, it is recorded and must be attributed to the right person. Yard moves and personal conveyance are the only other status that are allowed.
What Does This Mean for Trucking Operations?
It means although drivers may be physically and mentally capable of safely operating a vehicle because they’ve exhausted the hours they have to be driving and on duty, they will have to park and wait to reset their duty clock. This directly impacts the customers, who will have to adapt to truckers informing them that the driver won’t be able to make the pickup or delivery on time. In many cases, resetting the duty clock will result in missed pickups and delayed deliveries by hours or even days.
Lean Operations Take a Hit
It is a well-known fact that the trucking industry is struggling under the lack of adequate and functional infrastructure. Frequently, truckers are spending precious driving time searching for a safe and proper place to park. In some cases, commercial parking at roadside facilities are full and the driver must continue on to the next, in hopes of finding an open spot. Usually, customers lack empathy for this struggle and truckers have been mostly unsuccessful in getting financial compensation for these delays. This time spent searching for a parking spot may result in a shipment being picked up or delivered later than scheduled. Customers rarely are willing to waive the penalties for late pickup/delivery or shoulder the costs from carriers for the extra time and fuel needed to legally and safely park while under the customer’s load.
The ELD mandate will give greater visibility to this problem and may help truckers to get compensated for the additional time and effort. But, are customers ready to deal with the extra delays and extra costs associated with a lack of parking? Most likely not. And if not, what are they going to do when the entire industry is facing the same challenge. The months following the ELD mandate’s implementation will witness a new dynamic to trucker-customer relationships.