There are things I expected to change after the Dec 18th electronic log mandate (ELD). It seemed pretty obvious that rates would take an upward trend due to supply and demand. I had hoped that time would become more of a valued commodity. In fact, rates have been generally in an upward trend since Dec 18th and time has begun to have more value.
There are a few areas which totally caught me by surprise since the ELD mandate. One is a positive effect on traffic density in some areas which were typically “pinch points” on some of my normal routes. It seems as though the ELD mandate is causing the truck drivers schedules to be altered in regards to the time of day they are on the highway. This observation has been made from two viewpoints. The first one is the amount of trucks that will still be parked at a travel center as late as ten o’clock in the morning. In the past a travel center would nearly be empty by this time of day.
The second observation is during “rush” hour traffic I have observed a lower number of trucks I am sharing the highway with. I don’t know if this is due to better trip planning which is causing trucks to schedule themselves to avoid peak traffic periods of the day. Keep in mind each tractor trailer occupies approximately 75’ of real estate, add a buffer zone to each end of the truck and you are quickly at 125’ or more space being taken up. Think about the minimum of 125’ of real estate being occupied by each truck and trailer and then multiply that by 100 trucks on the interstate which gives you 12,500 feet. There is 5280 feet in a mile and 100 trucks would add up to a minimum of 2.37 miles. My out the windshield observation has been that where areas of traffic that was just a little bit of a problem has switched to little or no problem. In areas where it was a massive problem there is no perceptible change. In fact, on one particular morning going through Houston, TX I noted to myself “Where are all the trucks?”
The third observation has been at some of the shippers and receivers that I serve. There is one in particular which is busier then they normally were and yet the line to the dock has been greatly reduced. Prior to the mandate it was not unusual to find trucks lined up all the way down the street. Since the mandate there will only be one or two. I talked to the manager at this location and asked what had changed. I was told that the trucks seem to be coming in more sporadically throughout the day instead of a big rush first thing in the morning.
The final observation has been from some of the travel center restaurants I frequent. I have had more than one of the managers tell me it has been interesting to figure out the staffing requirements since they are not getting nearly as big of morning rush since the mandate. Today their morning rush seems to more spread out all the way through what typically would be considered as lunch time. This would seem to match the observation I made about morning rush hour traffic.
It appears as though as the week progresses my earlier observations of traffic density, lines at the shippers and receivers, travel center parking lots, and restaurants becomes more prevalent. My hypothesis is that on Mondays we start out closer with more people on the same schedule and through the natural delays, lines and other factors the trucks are being spread out through the day.
After all it would be impossible for all the trucks to load/unload at the same time of day. I must say this has caught me by surprise as I was prepared to switch my schedule to driving night time hours to avoid all of the parking and traffic issues which many predicted the ELD would cause. Has anyone else noticed changes in their routes since December 18th?