Truckload capacity has not suffered with the April 1 start of hard enforcement of federal electronic logging device regulations.
There was concern about the electronic device mandate draining truckload capacity out of the market after the enforcement deadline, but Beaverton, Ore.-based DAT Solutions, a provider of transportation information, said data doesn’t reflect that.
“We felt there was a lot of urgency around the April 1 deadline and it turned out not to be as big an event as expected,” said Peggy Dorf, market analyst with DAT.
DAT reported an 11% increase in the number of available trucks on DAT load boards the week of April 8-14. While rates did rise for refrigerated trucks in response to Easter demand, the rate increases weren’t as dramatic as those experienced in December and January. DAT reported refrigerated truck rates were $2.44 per mile on April 14, up from $2.40 per mile on March 24 and about 50 cents per mile higher than a year ago.
“The biggest impact (from ELD) was felt in December rather than the beginning of April,” said Peggy Dorf, market analyst with DAT. A survey by DAT last summer revealed that emotions were running high on ELD, especially for smaller carriers. “Many of them said they were never going to do it (but) in the end they changed their minds and did go ahead and install them,” Dorf said. More than nine out of ten carriers who were required to have electronic logging devices had installed them by mid-March, she said.
Even though the industry didn’t see a significant decline in people leaving the industry in the numbers that were predicted, Dorf said a DAT survey conducted in February and March this year revealed carriers said they were not able to drive as many miles or accept as many loads per weeks compared with before the ELD mandate.
“Sixty-five percent said they were driving fewer miles since the mandate took effect in mid-March and 70% said they were earning less money,” she said. “This is an environment when rates had risen about 30%.”
With refrigerated truck rates about 30% higher than year-ago levels in April, Dorf said spot truck rates for refrigerated trucks are expected to peak in June, when produce harvest is at its peak in the U.S.
The DAT survey said time spent loading and unloading trucks represents a sensitive issue for carriers, since time spent waiting cuts into on-duty time allowed by hours of service regulations.
The survey said nearly 35% of carriers said it took an average time between one and two hours to get their trucks loaded, and about the same said it took between two and three hours.
Fifteen percent of carriers said it took an average between three and four hours to get their trucks loaded and more than 5% said it took an average between four and five hours to get their trucks loaded.
Dorf said some shippers are working to reduce wait times in order to get better terms from larger carriers.
“If they take that seriously, they may put things in place to help the small carriers as well,” she said.
Government statistics show ELD compliance was generally high among carriers before the April 1 hard enforcement period began.
The electronic logging device mandate became effective in December, but ELD violations before April 1 were written up as 395.22(a) violations with no Compliance Safety and Accountability points at stake and no vehicles being placed out of service.
The metric that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses to measure compliance rates is the number of driver inspections with no ELD violations, Duane DeBruyne, deputy director of media relations for the FMCSA said in an email.
Through March 20, 95.9% of the drivers on the road were compliant with the ELD/hours-of-service record keeping requirements, he said.
DAT Solutions surveyed 645 carriers and asked about their use of electronic logging devices and how new regulations have affected detention policies.
Owner-drivers represented 74% of those surveyed, and more than 50% of all surveyed indicated they had just one truck in their fleet.
Highlights of the survey, conducted in February and March, were:
- About 81% of those surveyed said they use electronic logbooks or electronic logging devices.
- Most of those surveyed — nearly 60% — said they were using electronic log books for between one and three months, with just over 20% saying that they have been using electronic logging devices between three and six months.
- For the 8% of those surveyed who were not using electronic logging devices in February — and said that their trucks are not exempt — a little more than 25% said they were very likely to leave the industry, with about 12% indicating they were “likely” to leave the industry and just over 40% saying they were unsure.
- More than 80% of carriers said they received no fine, citation or warning relating to the ELD mandate at the time of the survey.
- 87% said it was “harder” or “much harder” to find parking since the ELD mandate took effect in December 2017.