Fleet Management

ELD Face-off: Two Sides of the Looming Mandate

December 11, 2017

By David Cullen

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Photo: FMCSA
Photo: FMCSA

With just a week to go until the much debated electronic logging device rule kicks in on Dec. 18, Heavy Duty Trucking asked top officials of two trucking associations that have been outspoken in their support or criticism of the far-reaching mandate to weigh in on several key aspects.

Replying for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the group that has represented the interests of individual professional truckers for over 40 years.

Replying for the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, also known as the Trucking Alliance, is Lane Kidd, managing director of the coalition of freight and logistics companies that supports various safety and security reforms.

Neither party was privy to the replies of the other before this article was posted.

HDT: Will ELDs truly stop cheating on hours of service?

Kidd: Yes, ELDs will effectively catch commercial drivers who ignore federal hours-of-service rules. And any driver who thinks he’s smart enough to simply manipulate the software is in for a rude awakening. Paper log books are like a horse and buggy, while an ELD is a Maserati, and you’ll not be able to simply alter the technology. But it begs the question – why would a company or driver go to such trouble to cheat, when ELDs will improve his lifestyle, his work day, and his pay.

Spencer: Not likely. The only thing an ELD can do is tell if a vehicle is moving. People are creative. Technology can always be tweaked for a different outcome. With ELDs, a driver can easily log off when [the vehicle is] stuck in traffic – something you would never do with paper.

HDT: If you could emphasize the single most important reason you’re for or against ELDs, what would it be?

Spencer: While the government-required monitoring and tracking should be a broadly shared concern, and drivers do say ELDs are used to prod and push, we are not opposed to ELDs per se – simply the mandate and associated costs not justified by improved efficiency or any credible safety data.

Kidd: ELDs will save lives. Trucking companies and their drivers have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the general public. A motorist should be assured that the truck driver operating that semi within a few feet of his car is properly rested, drug- and alcohol-free, well-trained, and complying with the law. Consider there are 400,000 accidents, 115,000 injuries, and more than 4,200 deaths that occur each year on our industry’s watch. Who is at fault in those large truck crashes is not the issue. Drivers must be prepared and equipped with technologies to avoid those crashes, and ELDs are a significant tool to achieve that objective. ELDs can help verify that our drivers are well rested and not fatigued from too many hours behind the wheel.

HDT: Given there are widely stated issues around enforcement, why or why not should the rule’s implementation be delayed… even at this late date?

Kidd: The only industry segments crying for more time are those companies that want to avoid the law. Congress passed the ELD mandate in 2012, and trucking companies have had more than two years since the rulemaking to install a device. Our law enforcement officers have the tools to enforce the mandate now. For example, I witnessed a “go live” demonstration in Virginia last week between carriers, truck drivers, the U.S. DOT and Virginia State Police. The officer stood on the truck’s running board while the driver transferred his ELD data to the officer’s laptop. The officer uploaded the data from his laptop using the web to the U.S. DOT platform. Within the time you could place an order through a drive thru, the officer received the information back from U.S. DOT as to whether the driver was in compliance. One officer commented to me that what takes him at least an hour to do in a roadside compliance check will take about five minutes with ELDs. ELDs are the game changer.

Spencer: There is way too much confusion across the board. State enforcement officials are all over the place on what to enforce on which trucks and drivers, and may not even have the backing of their own state laws, [or know] which trucks and operations are exempt. While you can point to FMCSA for the tardiness of their just-in-time training, I don’t think they ever imagined how broadly this rule could be applied and how many crucial sectors of our economy use and depend upon trucks.

HDT: Do you think ELD suppliers should have raised the alarm months ago about the lack of government or third-party certification of the devices they say comply with the rule?

Kidd: Our smart phones don’t have a third-party certification. I buy a flat screen based on my faith in the brand. Why should an ELD be any different? If the ELD doesn’t work, people won’t buy it. That’s the way an open market works. Carriers and drivers should do their homework and study which ELDs are receiving the highest marks and reviews. The best ELD companies will survive. And you won’t have ELDs that easily allow drivers to alter the programming, because the honest players won’t let that happen. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did the best it could to develop a self-certification system, because Congress didn’t give the agency enough time to do it any other way. Most importantly, improving safety shouldn’t bog down in bureaucracy.

Spencer: It’s been buyer beware from the start.


  1. 1. Steve [ December 11, 2017 @ 02:07PM ]

    Whoever thinks ELD's will save lives is a moron. If anything it's going to result in more crashes because we're having a computer decide when a human sleeps and doesn't sleep. This entire thing was put into action to make more money off small carriers. ELD's weren't selling well so they had to push this BS on us. I will stop all of my trucks before I comply with this nonsense.

  2. 2. Jeromy [ December 11, 2017 @ 05:02PM ]

    OOIDA is making the same arguments that have been shot down in every court, including the Supreme court. No one in OOIDA and most of the truckers buying into the arguments have actually used them, so their arguments are just theoretical. I did use them for 7 years. Since I always drove legal while on paper logs, the e-log didn't affect me one way or the other. The HOS are exactly the same with e-logs as they were with paper, so what is changing for drivers who oppose the e-logs? Simple, if they try to cheat, ( they can still cheat if they want), it's a lot easier to be caught.

  3. 3. Dustin [ December 12, 2017 @ 03:53AM ]

    I love how he says "it doeant matter whos at fault" in regards to truck/car accidents. Thats all that matters. Stats show that truckers are the safest drivers on the road. If you guys were really concerned with saving lives, you would be going after the four wheelers.

    Why not make them install a device that shows how long theyve been driving, mandate a ignition interlock with a breathalyzer to keep them from starting till you blow, put sensors on the front and rear that can record when they tailgate or cut someone off. Then make it legal for cops to stop them without a reason and have there computer get checked?

    i know why, because it would be an infringment of rights. Last i checked trucks are not rolling prisons, we did not give our rights up by becoking a driver.

    Also, if this law is so great and fair why are they granting exemptions left and right? Laws are supposed to apply to EVERYONE.

    This whole thing is going to be obamacare 2.0. A huge mess no one wants to figure out.

  4. 4. Mike [ December 12, 2017 @ 05:03AM ]

    This guy Lane Kidd has been smoking to much crack !! If he actually believes the foolish stats he’s spewing out he needs a mental health evaluation. This could have been real simple. If you like ELD’s & they work for you have at it. Also if you have a consistent hours of service problem it will be mandatory. Why would the government do anything that makes sense !! We all know why they wouldn’t $$$🙄🙄🙄

  5. 5. Mike Welch [ December 12, 2017 @ 05:11AM ]

    Dear Mr. Kidd,

    You sir are the exact reason we have these problems. You ignore the fact that safety is obtained from training and experience. You can put as many sensors and computers you want in a car or a truck. As long as you have a human controlling the vehicle, training is what will create a safe environment.

    Look at the mega fleets that have already implemented all this technology. Where is the evidence to back your example? How can you say who is at fault in a accident doesn't matter? Your admitting you know the answer as to who mostly is at fault!

    This is nothing short of big government and deep pocket control. If these ppl wanted to solve this problem of safety on our highways, they could start by educating themselves and their own driving habits. The majority of you ppl have no idea why there is a white line on the road prior to a traffic light and you want to shove safety down our throat! This is the biggest overreach of authority that has hit this industry yet!

    Racing a clock does not promote safety. You ppl better get busy real fast on stopping that 14 hr clock. As of right now, Dec 18th will be the start of the most unsafe highways I'm the United States until we get some common sense involved.

    By the way, I will be in Florida with my family and our camper until the 2nd week in January. If this industry would take my approach, you ppl would be begging us to come back to work. The interesting part of that would be no hrs of service rule would apply for weeks until the shelves are restocked and the gas stations are up and running. The 2 hurricanes proved that.

    I think I might drive straight from Pennsylvania to Sarasota. Oh nevermind, in my pickup pulling my camper with 0 training on how to pull it is except. My bad

  6. 6. Marvin [ December 12, 2017 @ 06:09AM ]

    Well it appears that Mr Kidd and the government has created a vision that Jeromy and others think that eutopia is just a few days away. Not doubting that Jeromy isn't legal in every way, but he doubts that anyone not using ELDs can't be legal in ANY way.
    The statistics were never allowed into the debate because the big fleets using ELDs have some of the lowest safety ratings on the road. Once again were seeing no leadership from the front or leading by example. Only a usual push from the rear and the usual "We'll fix it once we have control" attitude. With statements like Mr Kidd just made, the arrogance now is being made very clear. 2018 will finally get me off the road after a 46 year career with 18 of those being independent. Even though it's been a safe career, getting cheaters like me off the road will make it much safer according to Mr Kidd and Jeromy.

  7. 7. Andres [ December 12, 2017 @ 07:12AM ]

    You're bound to find people in every profession that break the rules while putting the general public at risk, but that is the minority. So while you do have bad doctors, bad construction workers, bad teachers, and bad drivers out there, the majority in each of these professions are good, hard working individuals who are well trained to do their job and look to not only the rules, but also common sense to perform their job the most efficient and safest way they know. Trucking is one of the most unpredictable professions out there: you cannot perfectly predict traffic, weather, waiting times, breakdowns, inspections, parking availability etc. so it makes little sense to bring in technology that basically eliminates the driver's ability to apply common sense to their driving habits, and instead works on the assumption that all trucking activities are predictable (down to the second). This will force many to have to choose between being in violation by a reasonable amount of time (which may cost them financially through the loss of safety bonuses) and working in a common sense manner which they feel is safer for themselves and the public. My only hope is that once regulators get the ELDs they want, that they react by injecting some common sense into the HOS rules which reflect the many realities of trucking...but, it seems that 'common sense' is not as common as it used to be.

  8. 8. Brian [ December 12, 2017 @ 07:36AM ]

    On "faith" we are suppose to assume that the ELD devices are actually compliant? On "faith" we are to assume that the ATA has no interest in the now booming market of ELD (which I already know to be false as at least 2 ELD manufactures are owned by trucking companys)?

    Anyone that has a firm grip and realization of what the trucking industry is, knows that Kidd is about as a useless to the industry as a broken sheet of glass. Its time we had leaders of this industry, that are from the industry. Not some paid-off cronies.

    ELD's will not save lives, and thats a fact. All you have to do is look at the large carriers, you know, the ones pushing this mandate, the ones that already have the ELD, and have had the ELD for a long time, and look at the MCMIS and SaferStat scores, and you will clearly see a picture that the ELD's not only are unsafe, promote unsafe activities, are actually going to promote more unsafe equipment going down the road because who has the time to fix it.

    Now I will also admit that Spencer is also useless. You cant keep harping on the same complaints, even though valid, and expect a different outcome each time you complain about it. Spencer has been targeting just the truckers, which I will admit, need representation. But in my opinion, would be much better served if we appeal to groups that need representation with us. For example, the NRA, MDA, and as much as I hate these other groups, PATT, CRASH, MAD, MATT. If we can get them with us, because we all want this industry to be safer, and can all come to a consensus of what needs to be done, a larger group of interested parties from both inside and outside the group will be heard a lot more clearly in Washington.

  9. 9. Gena [ December 12, 2017 @ 12:01PM ]

    Get the no cell phone use under control and you will have safer roads. My husband is a truck driver and I go with him all the time,i just love seeing so many people texting and going slow down the freeways and slamming on their brakes barely stopping in time to not rear end the vehicle in front of them. Just yesterday seeing a fatality because some one was texting and going to fast to stop and not noticing the traffic had stopped because they were texting ended up going under the dry van with the ICC bumper going thru the car to the back seat.So....who's fault is this? I'm sure everyone assumed the truck did something wrong. If law enforcement would do their job maybe a good percentage of unnecessary accidents would be avoided.

  10. 10. Bob [ December 12, 2017 @ 05:29PM ]

    Watch the drivers running out of time on their clock just drive faster..where is the clock on the shippers and the consigned? Big government gone wild...

  11. 11. james alderton [ December 13, 2017 @ 02:39PM ]

    It boils down to large greedy corporations want to squeeze every available working second out of drivers.Nothing to do with safety!The general population in general thinks its all right for a factory worker to work a full shift then jump in a big ass Rv car or pickup and drive as many hours as they choose.Whether its a commerical vechile or not it is still a moving object that is. capable as causing an accident as a truck.That scenario is played out thousands of times a day.and it does result in accidents that kill or cause injuries but that is not looked at.SO WHEN SOMEBODY CLAIMS SAFETY IN elds its the biggest load of bu--sh-t ever presented to the public.IT IS ALL ABOUT GREED NOT SAFETY!

  12. 12. Johnny Trucker [ December 13, 2017 @ 04:14PM ]

    In the 37 years I've been driving never seen this many cowboys out here. Canadian's are the worst. I've also noticed more drivers speeding because they have an ELD pointed at there head like a loaded gun be at destination. I drive in a lake effect snow belt and we will have many more deaths due to ELD's forcing drivers to drive 15-30 mph faster than they should be to be some where. Another bad decision by big Government out of control. Thank the left wing nuts.....

  13. 13. Hillybob [ December 13, 2017 @ 04:28PM ]

    Sad that government is pulling out strings. We are true puppets.

  14. 14. Chances r [ December 14, 2017 @ 02:25PM ]

    Been on ELDs over a year been driving trucks 33 years if we was to get a choice id not go back to paper logs sure eld has its down side but its also got good to it driving the speed limit running west i get over 700 miles easy i also get more rest i feel better

  15. 15. kevin [ December 15, 2017 @ 01:36PM ]

    you are just causing more problems now with eld i run faster so be it

  16. 16. Kenny Scott [ December 16, 2017 @ 09:40AM ]

    What a line of bs from this Kidd. Moral obligation. Where’s the Moral obligation from the shippers and receivers who treat you like animals. That is what causes accidents on the highway. there has been nothing done about parking or how you’re treated and the number of hours you load or unload sometimes you can’t even use the bathrooms, moral obligation go to hell Kidd. Everybody wants everything from the driver but gives nothing back , including Truck stops who see a gold mine with pay to park. Moral obligation , that’s the best one I ever heard. Hey Kidd I will take u on a trip and let you heard the Moral obligation from your brokers and such. You are a fraud and liar

  17. 17. ridgerunner [ December 29, 2017 @ 05:03AM ]

    That Kidd fellow is NUTS.Another talking mouthpiece who has no idea whats going on in the real world of trucking.I run my truck without a eld.I always will.i will not bow before the commie idiots in congress

  18. 18. Pam [ January 17, 2018 @ 09:25AM ]

    I wish the government would attack Heroin usage as hard as they are attacking our truckers.

  19. 19. Mic [ February 06, 2018 @ 04:37PM ]

    I drive a single axle truck to Boston everyday and do a considerable amount of work while I'm down there. My driving time consists of no more than 7 hrs. A day depending on traffic. Before eld's when I would get tired I would pull over and take a nap, now I'm forced to keep driving to make it back when I'm tired knowing that I'm a danger to myself and others. Logs should be based on mileage not the time it takes to get there.

  20. 20. Griz [ March 01, 2018 @ 03:44PM ]

    Kidd has no evidence to back her bold assertions. After just 2 months of "monitored" driving I find I'm more fatigued and stressed watching this unforgiving box count down. I miss favored safe stops by 1 minute and am assessed a violation. I have to stop at earlier stop next time -- 2 hours back. Have to start 2 hrs earlier next day to keep delivery time. I'm forced to stop in unsafe places for 30 min break -- when if I could have gone 5 extra minutes I'd be at a safe place and a 1hrs nap. But when I get there, I no longer have the time to spare so I drive fatigued so I can fulfill obligations.
    Truck stops, already woefully lacking and too small in many areas, are filling up sooner. No spots means sleeping on side of highway with traffic flying by just a foot or so from your head.
    Safer?? I say bullshit.


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