Currently at least 80% of drivers are able to keep a “flexible” schedule. Many like to say drivers using paper log books are cheaters, super truckers, danger on our highways. It’s this belief, a picture society holds of a driver shooting up some sort of a drug, with his teeth rotting from sugar products, smell of cigarettes and smells worse than a rotten body speeding down American highways with no sleep as if the driver holds license to kill. For a long time truckers image has been tainted as dangerous and dirty.
Now let’s snap back to reality what is really going on with our truck drivers, and our industry. Drivers on paper logs are actually more safe. Majority of these truckers uses the paper logs in order to take a break when their body and mind require it. Once rested, they will adjust their log book and keep driving to deliver products to the people of America.
Let me try to paint a picture for you. A driver wakes up at 7:30 AM, checks in with a customer in order to deliver these precious products. Best case scenario the driver has a dock by 8:15 AM. However, the product did not get unloaded until 11:30 AM. Technically the driver’s log should claim he started his day at 8:15 AM at the latest. Once the driver is unloaded, hopefully he has a load already and now he has to drive maybe 80 miles away. This can take about an hour and a half at best case scenario. By now it is 1:00 PM. The shipper decided to load the driver until 3:30 PM. Finally loaded, the driver has a problem. At this time traffic is forming and he is losing his drive time. He needs to get to a truck stop, wishes to fuel up his truck, take a shower, and maybe grab a decent meal finally. By the time he reaches the truck stop it could possibly be 4:30 PM, if not later. Diesel pumps are full, and he loses another 30 minutes getting fuel. This is 5:00 PM right now. It takes him about 10-15 minutes to find a parking, grab what he needs and heads into a truck stop. There is a line for showers and he waits another 15 minutes. Takes about 30 minutes to unpack, shower,get dressed, pack his bag again. By now it is close to 6:00 PM. His delivery is 340 miles left to go. Which means, grab a sandwich, or a slice of pizza and adjust your log book to allow you to have another 6 hours of driving at average speed of 60 miles an hour. The driver makes it to his delivery at midnight. Goes to sleep. Maybe the driver did not feel well, and decided to go sleep for 7 hours, and left at 1:00 am, and made his delivery by 8:00 am. However, anyway you look at this if this driver started his clock at 8:15 AM, he would have been pressured to drive as fast as possible, no time for breaks,showers,or meals. He would be fighting the clock. What if this driver checked into a dock at 8:15 AM, and decided to go sleep for 3 more hours as he waited to get unloaded? Once he drove another 80 miles, and was awake for 3 hours maybe he went back to sleep for another 3 hours while getting loaded? I am sure he is more rested than a driver that couldn’t sleep on his 10 hour break, and is now pressured to drive 11 hours on his ELD. Well, the problem with safety, and the law is the HOS Regulations, but paper logs allowed drivers to be flexible, and get the rest they need in order to keep doing their job.
What does this have to do anything with ELD affecting the freight rates?
Once this flexibile time is lost due to the ELD mandate, these drivers are not going to drive the truck tired and fatigued just because their device says they are safe to drive. The flexibility will be lost. Carriers will start losing company drivers that can’t make the miles they used to. Some may even been forced to drive tired because their ELD had hours such as the YouTube trucker RunHardGetPaid. Why would any driver be away from their friends and family to make as much money as he would driving for Uber? Only way to keep drivers happy will be, less miles, and more money! This money does not come from thin air. It has to come from the shippers.
Successful owner operators and carriers know their operational costs. The more miles their truck does, the less their operational cost is, which can drag freight rates down. Trucks not being able to keep the operation costs down due to the fact the miles are being cut down creates two things: tight truck capacity, and demand for more money in order to keep their operation costs and profit going. Shippers will not have OPTIONS, and brokers will find themselves in tight spots. Brokers will have to do a lot more work looking for drivers that have legal hours to complete a delivery, pick up, and so on. Customers will not be happy when brokers give them rates that carriers ask for and it could possibly create a shift of brokers losing customers, at the same time gaining new customers. Not too sure how well it go for brokers, but from my perspective I would not sign any contract freight for the next year at least.
But there are more drivers that will come and drive! I doubt it! Old drivers are retiring, and ELDs was the last pin being dropped. Young drivers are hard to come by now a days. Smaller carriers with good reputation, good pay can’t hire younger guys due to insurance policy requirements. Younger drivers are being forced to drive for carriers such as Swift, Werner, and so on. These carriers starve their drivers. How many 21-23 year olds can you think of would want to be away from parties, drop out of college, away from their relationships, to be gone for 3-4 weeks, and bring home $1600 if lucky? Would you? Exactly.
I would not be worried about smaller companies expanding again. It’s hard to find good drivers and not many wish to invest money into equipment that might sit again. For some reason, I can’t help but wish to add that this winter may not be as mild as the last two.In winter time many paper log book drivers will drive with caution 30-40 MPH for an hour or two to get out of a bad storm, fix their log book and continue driving. With ELD this will not be possible. 400 mile run can possibly turn into a two day delivery. Truck parking shortage is serious. Now a trucker can drive through here and there to find a safe parking spot, but once ELDs kick majority will look to find a parking an hour or two earlier before their clock shuts them down.
Overall, driver shortage, no flexibility in HOS,and parking shortage, is a perfect storm to even force some brokers out of business, allowing the brokers who stayed to get more customers, but also for higher rates. My prediction is .46 -.66 cents per mile rise.
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