The FMCSA created the ELD Mandate to improve driver safety and increase Hours of Service (HoS) compliance. The mandate’s second implementation phase, hard enforcement, began a little over nine months ago. Since then, the fleet industry has experienced hiccups, complaints, and both anticipated and unexpected consequences.
Now many are wondering: Has the ELD Mandate improved safety and compliance as it was supposed to?
Well, according to some of the first research we’re seeing, the answer is maybe, depending on who you are.
To understand the mandate’s impact, an academic team analyzed enforcement data from the FMCSA. They then published their findings on the compliance and safety effects, some of which we’ve discussed below.
Positive compliance results from the ELD Mandate
As hoped, the widespread enforcement of electronic logging devices has significantly decreased HoS violations. The greatest improvements were seen among independent owner-operators, who often operate just one truck. These smaller business were less likely to use ELDs unless required before the mandate, so they saw the greatest rise in improvements. All in all, compliance results include:
- Intentional violations (such as violating legal driving hours) fell by 36.7% during the soft enforcement period and further decreased by 51.7% since April
- The percentage of inspections that found ELD Mandate violations in independent owner-operator companies fell from 10.7% (pre-mandate) to 8% (soft enforcement) to 6% (strict enforcement)
- In the same periods, the percentage of inspections that found violations in larger carriers were 0.85%, 0.89%, and 0.75%
ELD safety results struggle
As mentioned above, the FMCSA designed the ELD Mandate to increase safety for fleet drivers. One of the main goals was reducing driver fatigue through HoS enforcement. In the months since enforcement, however, many drivers have felt that HoS restrictions limit their ability to meet deadlines and maintain productivity. As a result, unsafe driving violations for fleets of all sizes increased during the strict enforcement period. The anticipated decrease in accidents was also missing.
How did this happened?
With the change in HoS enforcement, some drivers have felt pressure to make up lost time. More drivers are now speeding and driving recklessly to make deadlines within HoS restrictions. Poor driving means more accidents and violations – even if drivers are well-rested.
What happens next?
As the industry struggles to find the best solution, the FMCSA has held multiple listening sessions to gather feedback. And, as they work to improve both HoS and ELD regulations, evidence is showing that it is possible to succeed while staying compliant if drivers carefully manage their hours. As the industry continues to adjust to the ELD Mandate, we will have to wait and see what comes next for fleet safety and compliance.