According to a recent survey conducted by CarrierLists, many regional carriers are still without compliant electronic logging devices, as per the FMCSA’s ELD mandate which became mandatory for them on December 18, 2017.
The weekly poll’s results as of January 15 said: “ELD compliance rates for regional fleets are still roughly 20 points below longer haul OTR (over-the-road) fleets.”
As a result of the slow compliance rate by regional carriers, the overall ELD compliance rate has dropped a little bit.
The survey of 205 running fleets operating between five and 100 trucks showed that after holding steady between 70 and 75 percent in November and December last year, ELD compliance went up to 90.5 percent in the first week of January.
But in the second week, the compliance rate went down to 89 percent, then further slipped by 10 points to 79 percent last week.
The poll, however, noted that the three-week ELD compliance rate rose above 80 percent on the average for the first time, reaching 82 percent.
Following are a few other highlights of the survey:
The results of this survey represent an increase from the third quarter poll where 76 percent of the trucking market still wasn’t using ELDs.
Despite the significant rise in ELD compliance by truckers, 28 percent is substantial because it means that of the estimated 3.1 million truckers covered by the ELD mandate, more than 860,000 drivers on the road are still operating without a compliant ELD.
Among the respondents of the Bloomberg/Trucking.com survey, 67 percent had five or fewer trucks while 83 percent had twenty or less.
American Trucker talked to CarrierLists President Kevin Hill to get his views on the results of their weekly survey.
“We’ve expected a little fluctuation, mostly because of the mix of lanes we survey,” Hill said.
But Hill pointed out that their survey underscored a continuing trend — ELD compliance rates for regional fleets are still roughly 20 points below long-haul national fleets.
“We’re talking about (regional) guys with lengths of haul between 300 and 500 miles; they are the ones 20 points below (the compliance rates) of the super-regional and national carriers,” he said.
Hill said that the low compliance rate among regional fleets could be attributed to several factors.
He told that many regional fleets have ELD equipment on back order and are still getting their personnel trained on how to use the devices properly.
“Driver training on ELDs for the procrastinators is problematic and is causing disruptions with pickup and deliveries times,” Hill added.
He also said that many fleets are delaying the adoption of an electronic logging device until the mandate’s “soft” enforcement period ends on April 1.
“Enforcement seems to be lenient right now as everyone keeps figuring all of this out. There have been a few citations but no major fines that we know of,” Hill said.
After April 1, stiff penalties for noncompliance with the ELD rule would be imposed.
Hill highlighted that the so-called “soft” enforcement of the mandate could be a factor why regional fleets are delaying the adoption of ELDs.
He explained, “If you are operating on the same lanes in, say, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, you probably know all the inspectors and know what they’ll allow and what they won’t. But if you’re heading into the Northeast or to California on an irregular basis, like the long-haul fleets do, you don’t know what to expect. There’s much more (ELD) enforcement risk with them.”
Hill also mentioned that, over the last two weeks, fleets are now negotiating with shippers and asking about loading and unloading times to determine which loads to accept.
“Shippers, especially the smaller ones, are being caught by surprise. There’s no slack in the system anymore. And the smaller ones tend to sometimes be more disorganized. Sometimes they can have a bad day, and it takes four or five hours to get a guy unloaded.”
DAT Solutions data showed that spot market rates dipped sharply, partly because more truck capacity is now beginning to re-enter the market.
DAT also said that the number of available trucks went up 52 percent during the week ending January 13 although spot rates for dry van, refrigerated, and flatbed capacity remain higher than at any point in 2017.
The load-to-truck ratios for all three truck types slipped from record highs, DAT added.
The dry van ratio fell from 14.7 the previous week to 10.7, while the flatbed ratio dropped from 63.5 to 53.7 and the refrigerated ratio slid from 25.2 to 18.4.
DAT noted in particular that the number of dry van load posts went up 12 percent, while truck posts surged 54 percent, bringing the national average spot rate for dry van equipment down two cents to $2.28 per mile. But that is still a high rate, the company added.
The demand for refrigerated trailers was still solid, with load posts up six percent. Truck posts rose 46 percent compared to the previous week, which depressed the national average reefer rate by a penny to $2.70 per mile.
The national average flatbed rate slipped a penny as well, down to $2.42 per mile to start the year as truck posts jumped 60 percent against a 35 percent rise in available loads.
Hill said: “There is a golden opportunity out there now. Owner-operators are getting ELDs on their phones and are getting back out there because it makes no sense to stay parked if rates are doubling.”
Because regional fleets have been slow to comply with the ELD rule, the overall ELD compliance rates went down.
The ELD mandate’s “soft” enforcement — among other reasons — has caused fleets and owner-operators to delay their transition to ELDs. However, with the April 1, 2018, deadline coming up quickly, regional fleets, as well as other non-exempt truckers, will have to hurry up to get compliant ELDs in time.