National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

Is the ELD Mandate the Y2K of Truck Technology?

NationaLease members speak out about the effect of the full enforcement of the ELD mandate.

Back in February, I wrote a blog, “NationaLease Members Work to Help Customers Comply with the ELD Mandate.” This was during the soft launch of the mandate so I wanted to see how customers were responding and what issues they were experiencing. I spoke with Matt Svancara, Executive Vice President at Aim Leasing Company; Mike Napoliello, Branch/Fleet Manager at Bentley Truck Services, Inc. a NationaLease Member; and Amber Woodrome, Accounting Supervisor and Rick Searcy, Transportation Manager at Success NationaLease.

At that point in time, our members indicated that their customers had not had any major issues regarding ELD compliance and inspections, although some customers still had some confusion as to whether their vehicles fell under the mandate and how to optimize the ELD devices themselves. Now that the mandate has been in full effect for more than four months, I wanted to go back to these same members to see what has, or what hasn’t, changed.

Have companies experienced major disruptions in their business? I thought back to 1999 when the Y2K fear concerned people and businesses worldwide. Just to jog your memory, there was a fear that computers and computer networks around the world would not be recognize the change from the 20th to the 21st century, and havoc would prevail. That fear turned out to be unfounded and people, businesses, and computers were just fine. Would concern regarding the ELD Mandate, though much less so than Y2K, turn out to be just as unfounded?

What I found was that, rather than creating problems, the ELDs resulted in benefits for many customers. According to Matt Svancara of Aim Leasing Company, headquartered in Girard, Ohio, “Not only have I not heard any complaints; quite the opposite. Some customers said that, although they didn’t have the ELDs before, they now realize the operational benefits and wish they had installed them sooner.” Matt went on to note that managers and owners found they had more control over all aspects of their vehicle’s and driver’s performance. “We’ve even found that drivers are adapting to it,” according to Matt.

Mike Napoliello at Bentley Truck Services, Inc, in the Philadelphia area, also found little concern among customers. Only 30 percent of their customers actually fall under the mandate, but of those that do, “Full enactment of the ELD Mandate proved to be no big deal,” noted Mike. “Most customers said that their businesses were rolling along as usual.” The one concern Mike found was what would happen if a truck goes down. No problem, indicated Mike. “For those customers that fall under the mandate and need to rent trucks, Bentley has bought ELD units for the trucks and when we dispatch a truck,” Mike states, “we go over the ELD mandate with our customers to make sure they understand everything. There really has been no real concern.”

However, not all is rosy everywhere, but not for the reasons you may think. Amber Woodrome and Rick Searcy of Success NationaLease in Kansas City, Kansas noted that many of their customers really didn’t fully comprehend the effect that HOS would have on their business and the ELDs showed them that they could no longer do what they were able to do before. Rick notes, “Now they, the managers, have to know how to make deliveries on time. In the past, they relied on drivers to keep logs. Now to be in compliance, some customers find they need two drivers instead of one; they need to split loads; plus some other issues. They’ve had to learn how to legally run their drivers.” But both Amber and Rick made clear that the issue was compliance with HOS, not problems with technology.  Amber notes, “We work with our customers to show them the administrative rules of working with the ELDs. We find there’s only about a two-week learning curve for managers, back-office workers, and drivers.”

The interesting thing that all of these members found was that customers were learning a lot about their businesses that they might not have known before. Amber stated, “It’s not just the customers that are learning important things about their vehicles and their drivers; we keep finding more and more benefits to these devices that allow us to optimize business for ourselves and our customers.”

So it’s clear that, like Y2K, the ELD mandate turned out to cause much less upheaval than people anticipated. It’s still early…only four months in to the full mandate. We’ll check in next year to see if anything changes.

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