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Truckers: A Storm is Coming

ELDs have been on the roads for only a short while. Most drivers have learned the problems and pitfalls of these devices by now, and most who haven’t will soon enough. But the real impact of these changes has yet to be truly felt. Truckers are already having to change the way they do business, but the web of services and enterprises surrounding trucking hasn’t yet started to change shape to absorb what’s happened. But that’s coming. A lot of things are going to be different, and most of the changes aren’t good.

Most of you already know this, but I’ll spell it out for anybody who’s late to the party. The advantages of ELDs are imaginary. That’s just a fact. They are projected benefits based on a whole slew of assumptions, assumptions that are made by people who are not truckers, people who have never done the job and don’t know how it works.

But what about the costs? Well, the decrease in productivity is measurable. That ain’t imaginary. The fact that it hits small fleets harder than the big ones, and owner/operators hardest of all, that ain’t imaginary. The way drivers feel about the disrespect of someone telling them that they don’t know how to handle their business, that ain’t imaginary.

It doesn’t take some kind of genius to figure how this all shakes out. Fewer miles per driver means you need more drivers. Small businesses folding means more work for the big fleets, and that means you need more drivers. And drivers quitting because they aren’t treated as people who have value, businessmen who are worthy of respect? Yeah, that means you need more drivers.

I’ll tell you something about trucking, it’s not an easy job, and Lord knows it doesn’t pay as much as it should. But it’s honest work, and there’s plenty of it, and that’s always been enough for working people in this country. But that’s about to change. We had a driver shortage before the ELD mandate. Anybody imagine this nonsense is going to improve things?

I believe there’s sunshine on the other side of those clouds. Trucking is the blood of this country. When trucking is in trouble, so is America. I think the FMCSA will revisit the mandate sooner rather than later, not because they get any wiser but because they’ll have to. When the big fleets and the small fleets, the brokers and the dealers and every man and woman who works in transportation raises holy hell, they will have to. So I suggest we do just that.

I hope your circumstances allow you to make it through. And I believe there is good money and open road on the other side, for those who can weather the storm.

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