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It’s a New Year and a Big Shift in the Trucking Industry

Author: Nick Moschella, Vice President, Forbes-Hewlett

I’ve been in this industry for over thirty years and have never seen such a dramatic shift in the Cross Border trucking dynamic emerge so quickly. ELDs became mandatory in December of last year and although the industry expected an extension for compliance, that just didn’t happen. So today, as a Canadian Carrier serving U.S. markets, you can’t run without having your electronic logging devices on board.

In the current environment, it’s tough to find trucks and even tougher to find drivers who want to run the USA. As ELD compliance became mandatory, we saw some of our boomer-aged drivers elect to either retire, or take driving jobs within Canada. Take that attitude across an industry known for its aging driving force and we will see further increases in demand for U.S. drivers. And when ELDs become mandatory in Canada, what then?

We actually embraced this technology a few years back, so there have been no recent challenges for us due to the mandatory legislation. Still, capacity has never been tighter and for the first time in a decade, our industry put through a much needed and way overdue rate increase.

I have conversations with other ELD compliant carriers on a regular basis. Our shared feeling is that overall, ELD compliance is a positive change for our industry. It was a critical step forward to ensure the safety of our driving professionals. It puts more value on the drivers’ time and that equates to shippers being cognisant of reducing waiting time for loading, dispatchers being more respectful towards their driving force and trucking management addressing remuneration based on current and future driver retention and demand.

With mandatory ELDs, a driver is allowed 14 hours of duty time. In the past, a driver did not track various delays and tended to be more creative with his manual logs to be compliant on a daily basis. Today, a driver is accountable for non-driving obstacles that include delays as a result of traffic, weather, customs, and wait time at the shipper. These all add stress to the drivers’ job but at least they are now accounted for accurately and we are able to address recurring delay issues.