It seems that these days we can find news sources that will gladly affirm our beliefs. That does not apply to just politics. It definitely applies to news about trucking. If you want to find an article that will say that ELDs will fix – all things trucking – you can find it. If you want to find an article that says that ELDs will drive independents out of business, you can find that too. The mandate is still scheduled to take effect later this year. It is time to seek the truth.
Facebook seems to be a great purveyor of false information. The other day I read a post where an owner operator definitively declared that he was not worried about it because if you had less than 5 trucks, the mandate does not apply to you. Worse yet, he had others agree with him. Truth is that it is the age of your truck that determines whether or not you are required to have one. If your trucks was built before 2000, you don't need one otherwise you do. It is a logical exception because a truck built in 1999 may not have an ECM. Your ELD must be tied to your ECM.
ELDs are expensive. The truth is that ELDs vary widely in price. The issue is that those that are anti ELD mandate often quote the price of a fleet management system. While a fleet management system will likely include an ELD, it may not. Do your research. Shop around. Buy the system that fits your operation. Make sure that it fits FMCSA requirements.
Smart phones alone do not fulfill all of the FMCSA requirements. The key to the requirements is that it tracks when the truck moves. It has to tie to the ECM. Yes, smart phones can track movement. They can also be left at home while you make a delivery. Then you can swing by the house and pick it up later.
Rates will rise? Perhaps there will be a slight increase due to the limiting of supply. If they rise, it will be slightly. If in 1998, we had gone immediately to the mandate the change would have been dramatic. The truth is that we have had to move closer to legal over the last 20 years. We have been being tracked electronically for awhile now. The fuel stops no longer ask what date we want on our fuel receipt. The exact time is recorded electronically. Most fuel discounts use a card and we pay at the pump. Cell phone records can get subpoenaed if you are involved in a crash. A mistake or falsification can lead to liability issues.
The mandate probably won't give the results that I had once hoped for, or that others had feared. The results will probably be somewhere in the middle. The key will be in finding the right one for your operation. Do the research. Do the math.