ELD Survey: The Data, the Facts and How ELDs Affect Carriers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, created to improve safety within the transportation industry, is currently the hot topic on everyone’s mind. ELDs synchronize with a vehicle’s engine to automatically record driving time for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) logging, which translates to greater safety on the road.

Carriers and drivers who are subject to the rule must install and use ELDs by the appropriate deadline – those using paper logs or logging software must transition to ELDs no later than December 18, 2017, and those using AOBRDS prior to the compliance date must transition to ELDs no later than December 16, 2019.

This mandate has left both shippers and carriers with many questions about how the industry is going to react to the full transition to these devices, such as:

  • How will this impact driver productivity?
  • Will drivers leave the industry as a result of ELD implementation?
  • Will smaller carriers close up and leave the industry?
  • How will this impact industry capacity moving forward?

The Electronic Logging Device Survey
Recently, Transplace surveyed over 2,000 carriers in order to gain insight into the implementation preparedness of transportation carriers and the expected industry impact of the widespread use of these devices. The survey included responses from more than 500 carriers and allowed Transplace to hear directly from our carrier partners and gain first-hand insight into how they are responding to the mandate and their expectations for how the use of ELDs will impact their businesses.

One of the key takeaways from the survey shed light on how ELDs are being implemented across the transportation industry. Most importantly, we learned that ELD device implementation varies by fleet size, with large fleets leading the implementation charge. The study revealed a significant difference in the amount of implemented ELD devices between large and small fleets:

  • 81% of large fleets with more than 250 trucks reported that they had achieved full ELD implementation, with the remaining 19% currently working towards implementation.
  • However, small fleets of less than 250 trucks have been much slower to integrate ELDs, with only 33% having fully integrated ELD devices into their fleet.
  • Another 29% have begun the implementation process, while the remaining 38% stated that they have no immediate plans to begin implementation.
  • One response noted, “I am a very small fleet with only two trucks. I have just begun doing my homework on the program and will implement it by December 1, 2016.”

ELD Impact on Small Carrier Fleets
The implementation of ELD devices has been significantly slower for carriers with smaller fleets, and while some carriers are still researching the different technologies and creating implementation plans, others indicated that they are holding out in hopes that the mandate will be overturned in court. For example, one carrier responded to the survey by saying, “I will sell out first” and another remarked: “Hoping this is overturned in court. Will comply when all efforts have been exhausted.”

This slow rate of EDL adoption by small carriers, a significant part of the nation’s truckload capacity, is a real concern for shippers and a threat to continued access to capacity to meet shipper volumes. And while a lot can happen between now and when the mandate takes full effect on December 16, 2017, most carriers – large and small – anticipate a noticeable impact to utilization and capacity.

Capacity and the Driver Shortage Cause Concerns…
According to the results of the survey, while most carriers expect their capacity or utilization to be affected as a result of ELDs, the level of change varies.

  • 56% of large fleets expect their utilization to decrease, while 32% expect to see no impact from the implementation of ELDs.
  • Smaller fleets are even more cautious about how their utilization will be affected, with 64% expecting a decrease and 25% expecting to see no change.
  • One response said: “Rate increases will be forthcoming to shippers that take excessive time to load or unload.”

Additionally, as expected, the ELD shift has caused some truck drivers to exit the industry altogether, and some carriers reported losing truck drivers after implementing ELDs. In fact, 51% of carriers indicated that they have lost drivers who did not want to operate under ELDs. And while most indicated that they only lost a couple of drivers, one carrier reported losing 50% of its drivers.

One response to the survey said, “We have 110 trucks and lost 29 drivers when we switched them over to e-logs.” Another noted that, “Many drivers feel that the waiting times incurred at shippers that are currently unlogged will now be logged – and that this will negatively affect their pay.” One respondent also had a comment about driver pay in light of these changes: “We only lost a few [drivers], but we did give a raise to our drivers so we would not lose as many because we anticipated a learning curve and knew they would lose money.”

…But There Are Benefits to ELDs
Although there are certainly concerns from many regarding their widespread implementation, ELDs will have several positive business benefits within the industry. According to the survey, carriers do foresee some benefits as a result of ELD utilization within their companies, including:

  • Improved monitoring (33%)
  • Better utilization of drivers and equipment (21%)
  • Driver convenience (10%)
  • Reduction in operating costs (2%)
  • Fuel savings (2%)
  • Other (32%)

In fact, once ELDs have been implemented, 84% of respondents report a reduction in the HOS and logging violations. One response noted, “Mandatory ELDs will create a level playing field and position us to better control our customers’ (often unrealistic) expectations.”

While a lot can happen between now and when the mandate takes full effect on December 16, 2017, most carriers – large and small – anticipate a noticeable impact to utilization and capacity. The challenge will be to find the right balance of good safety practices without causing a significant disruption to the transportation industry.

Shippers will continue to follow this ELD initiative closely and many are beginning to document their carriers ELD implementation status. These shippers are surveying their carriers to confirm ELD adoption status and also press carriers who have not implemented ELD’s on their plans to move to full ELD compliance.

Ben Cubitt is Senior Vice President, Consulting & Engineering, at Transplace. With more than 20 years of industry and consulting experience in freight optimization, Mr. Cubitt has a deep familiarity with the freight procurement field working for consulting firms and multiple Fortune 500 companies in the consumer products, paper and automotive industries. Mr. Cubitt joined Transplace in July 2010 after four years as Vice President, Supply Chain for RockTenn Corporation. At Transplace he leads the engineering and consulting teams.



  1. Hi Ben, I’m not sure I fully understand why drivers pay is impacted. ELD’s measure when truckers are driving. In particular, I don’t get this sentence: “Many drivers feel that the waiting times incurred at shippers that are currently unlogged will now be logged – and that this will negatively affect their pay.”

    • Haven’t been in trucking very long have you Steve? Drivers that are paid by the mile/load are not generating revenue unless the truck is racking up miles. Sitting at a customers eats up available hours. That equates to less driving time and lost productivity which negatively affects driver pay. Now, on the other hand, hourly paid local drivers could care less.

  2. Ben replied to my question via email. This is the reply:


    “Drivers are paid by the mile driven and not hourly, etc. So their pay is a direct tie to miles driven per day or week. The major constraint on miles driven per day is how many of their allowed working hours are spent moving, making miles. If “hours of service” per day are limited by long loading / unloading times then they have less ability to make miles on a day or week. Also if held up for loading or unloading it may make them miss picking up the next load (and have to lay over or pick up later in the day) or put them in peak congestion hours of traffic, etc. All would reduce the number of miles they could get in a day or week.”

    Make sense?


    Ben Cubitt

    • Steve, how can you possibly not understand and still be reading transportation industry news.

      It’s like telling someone they have to drive to work, in traffic for hours, then be at work not making a dime till after lunch, only then , once loaded , do they start earning a living.

      Would you show up, wait half a day, then only make 4 hours wages, with a potentially 12 hour investment? ?

    • Hi steve ,
      Yes , this makes since. Im looking for the same answers. I own a small fleet and looking how to explain to drivers , they are have to be late for their p/u’s and/or deliveries or taking a load from the manufacturer, then turn around and explain to the executive why your ontime percentage has droped. Will the eld’s keep our accounts ? Doubtful, due to exec’s, dont want to hear excuses, whether its a third party or direct contract.
      Ive been faced with the question : im an hour outside NY city, NY, time is 2:30pm( must cross the george washington bridge). My destination is a p/u in a not so safe neighborhood, if i don’t make it within my hos, i’ll be late the next morning, which then makes me late back to the manufacturer to p/u load to start next weeks deliveries. At hat point i mist call the shipper and inform them on their ontime percentage will drop incase they reroute next weeks schedule with all the drivers.
      Or : i can take my ten off that point , but that adds to my hos for the next day inwhich i can not make it due to the amount of miles.
      From owners stand point you have many issues at hand here which involves: driver, shipper,receiver,manufacturer, your office staff, maintenance crew, dispatch, and this is just on my side of the operation. This will absolutely create a meeting of a beat down from your peers that have a ” no excuses” mantality.

      So i would love to hear the answers you receive !
      Any info would be greatly appreciated during these tested time we are about to face.

  3. I understand large fleets using Eld’s for all the benefits they provide tracking, abuse, and fuel savings. But for small fleets it’s more of a gamble that could ultimately cost them their businesses and lifestyles that they have worked so hard to build. Let me explain for example if Schneider or swift or one of these major companies runs into a traffic jam where the interstate is completely shut down and that 14 hour clock is just a ticking, sure they can go off duty to save drive time but we all know the 14 hour clock NEVER stops once it starts for the day. Now what the big companies can do is arrange for another driver to relay that load to another driver that has the hours to deliver it, and boom life’s great all is good the load is delivered, the shippers are happy and the receiver is happy. Now replace that big company with a small fleet with one to ten trucks scattered across the country. How can that driver make his/her deadline when they now have to take a 10 hour reset to get moving again? (All because a computer says you’ve been on duty for 14 hours) And some customers demand that their products be delivered on time and some receivers will NOT receive unless it’s on time. You see chances are the people making the rules have never been in a truck trying to make a living for their family so they don’t know what really goes on out in the drivers seat. I understand that they’re are fatalities that happen due to inconsiderate truckers that are driving when they should be resting but that doesn’t make the whole industry bad. I’ve been on this road for five years strong never an accident or unsafe operation how am I supposed feel when a judgement is passed that could close my business? Due to something I can’t change. The hard truth is the highway is a dangerous place to be at all times and unfortunately we all are going to or have lost loved ones in traffic accidents but that doesn’t justify creating a hassle that could hurt more people than it could potentially help. This is my two cents and I hope it helps someone. Thanks for reading God bless!

  4. I really wish they would quit saying it’s going to “even the playing field” or “make the industry safer” . These are hogwash in my opinion. I have as a driver seen people rush through truck stops and road work areas trying to save those few minutes to be able to get to the next stop. How is it going to level the playing field? Let me be able to purchase a truck,tires, fuel, ect… at the same price as the megafletts that would level the playing field. This is nothing more than an attempt to push out the little guy and leave nothing but a few huge companies and they surely won’t compensate the driver.

  5. I do a weekly produce run from Boise to la and back once a week. My concerns are traffic delays as well as long delays at the produce sheds. I feel a split logging system would solve a lot of these issues. It would make using EDL more apporperate. It’s safer to wait out long rush hour traffic delays than pushing trough traffic just to comply with the 14 hour clock. No to mention, that there need to be some legislation on dock wait times. They are a real time killer.

  6. Let’s be honest. This mandate has very little to do with safety. The statistics don’t support a significant increase in safety. This is a special interest driven, corrupt government authorized example of the blatant disrespect facsict corporate “America”(increasing Trans national) has for the working class men and women of this country. EOBRs are nothing but a big fleet management tool and they aren’t even necessary for that as well. This kind of Nazi like electronic surveillance of American citizens will be used as precedent to further develop the growing police state. It will spread to many other areas of our society. I hope all the corrupt supporters of this nonsense are happy when their own children are enslaved in the evil system that is developing before our very eyes. OOIDA has stated that the decision will be appealed either way. It may go all the way to the Supreme Court. Let’s pray that if it does, they strike it down for good. All citizens should be very concerned about the wide spread and deep rooted corruption that has co opted our country.

  7. i am against ELD, because i been loading LTL seafood and apples for 13 years that goes to big companies like Walmart, Sysco, US Food, HEB, Sygma, Publix, PFG, Costco. just to name a few. these all have appointments and they always hold up drivers for hours and hours. so if i have 5-6 drops, takes 2-3 days to drop because of appointments and with the ELD, it will take an extra 2 days. nobody is going to raise thier prices, drivers will have to sit an extra 2 days for same $$ and if you miss an appointment because you cant drive, you call and reschedule and like Walmart or HEB or publix, are overbooked for the next 3 days. will they care? no. you are trying to be legal with ELD and you get punished. and for your driver not to leave, you have to pay him daily and loose $$. multiply that by 12 drivers in and out weekly, thats a big sum.

  8. If you have to put ELD’s in your truck then companies should have to pay the driver or owner of the truck for every min. of time. That means not giving shippers and rec. 2-3 hours free before they start to pay detention time. How many jobs do you know of that you clock in say at 7, but you don’t start getting paid until 9 o’clock.With ELD’s you should get paid for every thing,because you get paid for miles you drive. All this new law is going to do is put more trucks on the road to haul the freight. Drivers have been getting screwd for years and thats all this does ,it’s always been put it on the driver.When you get up and do your pre-trip insp. your time – 14 hours start ,if you get unloaded in 2 hours and you don’t get a reload for 8 hrs. you have 4 hrs to drive,you should get paid for those 8 hrs. I think all this is going to do is make things worse . Drivers are going to find a job close to home if there not making any money driving. Paying detention time has to be mandated by the goverment or it want be paid.These people that think trucking will regulate itself don’t know what they are talking about. If trucking can take care of itself ,we would’ be talking about detention.

  9. ELD’s do not create a level playing field between large carriers and small 1 truck operations. Large fleets already have several advantages over us small mom and pop 1 truck companies. If the truck breaks down it will completely stop all incoming revenue until that truck is fixed. Large fleets have extra trucks that are still running to subsidize the downed trucks. We have to pay full price for fuel while large fleets get 20% discount across the nation. Large fleets don’t have to pay insurance premiums because they can self-insure. Large fleets get waivers from many FMCSA regulations. Small fleets get no such favoritism. Large fleets can afford to have lobbiest in Washington pushing their agenda to handcuff or eliminate small carriers. There will never be a level playing field between large carriers and 1 truck companies and ELD’s will just give them another huge advantage. The only way around ELD’s is for small companies is to get an exempt pre-2000 truck or switch over to short-haul but soon that too will be on the chopping block.

  10. I’ve already started a new business adventure when this liberal shit starts you can have it I won’t miss all the govt harassment. Wondering if some cop has a bad day waiting to take it on you. No thanks.

  11. The pay to drivers need to be raised , to compensate for losses due to time at shippers,fuel stops and prices and all other price hikes and expenses (cost of living)! We as truckers need a raise it has been over 20 years and the pay has not changed!!!

  12. Francisco

    Hi , as soon as the ELD’s are implemented I’m
    I will not be driving for a living , I’ll be loosing a lot of money rather retired

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