How the Trucker E-log Law Can Impact Your Company's Cargo

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A long awaited electronic logging device (ELD) rule takes effect Dec. 16, 2017. This new federal rule, years in the making, requires truck operators to use electronic logging devices to record hours they are operating. Paper logs will no longer be kept. Company leaders that depend on their supply chain to run smoothly are encouraged to think now about how to avoid disruption.

The new rule has survived numerous legal challenges. The Supreme Court rejected a request to hear arguments against the new law that will impact some 500,000 U.S. trucking firms. It’s a significant change in how truck drivers log their work. Since the 1930s they’ve tracked their time using pen and paper. This new regulation is going to impact inbound, full-container-load ocean cargo destined for central and southern Indiana businesses.

Economy impacting driver hiring

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is at four percent in the Midwest. That makes hiring tough. Drayage companies are having a hard time finding qualified drivers to deliver containers from Chicago, which is the Midwest’s largest ocean hub. The container yards in Chicago are also being impacted. They’re under staffed due to the booming economy. Container yard leaders also are having a hard time finding employees to locate and load the containers on chassis for delivery to Indiana.

Impact of work rules and roadway congestion

About 4 million commercial vehicle inspections are conducted every year throughout North America, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually by keeping exhausted drivers off the road.

You might ask why this will have effect on deliveries from Chicago to the Hoosier state. Consider the allocated time on the driver’s daily clock and highways they must travel to make deliveries. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules allow drivers 14 consecutive hours on duty between driving, wait times and so on. Once a person has driven a total of 11 hours, they have reached the driving limit and must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before driving a truck again.

With waiting time at the Chicago container yards, rail ramps and unpredictable traffic on I-80/94 and I-65 required to make deliveries to Indiana, time is always ticking. It’s nearly 200 miles from Chicago to Indianapolis. Traffic, accurate log time and waits will have a major impact on businesses with cargo headed to central and southern Indiana. Driver’s may not have enough legal driving hours to return to their home base after delivery of the goods.

Plan now to avoid the impact

In order to avoid overtime and extra delivery charges, consider moving their FCL into the newly upgraded Indianapolis Rail Ramp. With two shifts now in place, containers can be recovered within 16 minutes, on average. Deliveries to Greensburg, Vincennes, Washington, Jasper along with other central Indiana locations can be made with no fear of extra waiting and delivery charges. 

Andy Hadley is a development professional with Indianapolis-based Cargo Services.

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