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The mandate for US truckers to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) continues to feed controversy as its repercussions reach beyond domestic surface transport.

Air cargo providers are also feeling the impact – from higher trucking rates to delays and, in some cases, desperate modal switches to get cargo to its destination on time.

The new regime, introduced at the end of last year, has affected the long-haul sector the most. According to some reports, small truckers steer clear of trips of 450 miles or more to avoid the danger of having to spend an extra day on a job, in case congestion pushes them beyond the daily limit. This has exacerbated the shortage of trucking capacity in longer lanes.

Calgary-based charter broker and GSA Aerodyne Cargo Services, which focuses chiefly on the oil & gas industry, frequently trucks maindeck cargo to US gateways, owing to limited capacity on its doorstep. Trucking rates to Chicago have more than doubled, reported MD Ron Buschman.

Capacity has become scarcer, he added. “We had challenges getting trucks at some point,” he said.

Aerodyne has worked with some trucking firms for years, so regular capacity has not been an issue, but getting additional capacity has been difficult.

Moreover, truckers have blamed delays on the ELD regime, Mr Buschman said.

“In previous years we’ve had very few delays, now we have more.”

Harry Steiner, MD of The Charter Store, a Florida-based charter broker, sees a direct connection between trucking delays and a rise in cargo charter activity. Faced with uncertainty on the road, shippers feel they have no choice but to send their cargo by air, he said.

“Some trucks just shut down. They park when the e-log tells them they’re getting to the limit for the day. This has created a massive amount of charter flights within NAFTA,” he stated.

“We’re hearing stories like that as well,” added Brandon Fried, executive director of the US Airforwarders’ Association. “Airlines are telling us that their domestic volumes are increasing.”

The shortage of trucking capacity and the high prices are also causing diversions in air cargo flows between Canada and Latin America, according to Joe Lawrence, president of GSA Airline Services International. His company represents a Latin American carrier that has southbound flights out of New York and Miami.

“Trucking cost has quadrupled. There is a shortage of drivers, and a shortage of trucking capacity,” he said. “Customers are using any way they can to move their cargo. A lot goes on European carriers – via Europe to Latin America.”

Half a year into the new regime, the controversy has not gone away. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has invited comments on a request for an exemption from the mandate for all trucking outfits with fewer than 50 staff, tabled by the Small Business in Transportation Coalition.

The interest group argues that the ELD mandate puts small operators at a disadvantage to larger competitors.

There is concern among forwarders that the broader trucking issues may cause problems for marine cargo as well.

“Prices for trucking from the ports are sky high and there will be a general problem by the end of the year with chassis at the port,” warned Willie Scholz, director, business development USA at Cargomind.

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  • Scott

    June 21, 2018 at 2:27 am

    Hmmm. Makes me think that the only reason the trucking companies were able to accomplish this before the mandate was because they were falsifying their logs to work more hours than allowed. This isn’t an e-log problem. This is a problem of expectation from shippers, brokers, etc that drivers will cheat or falsify hours of service to “get the job done” and companies allowing or ignoring drivers falsifying logs. I have lived breathed e-logs from an office situation as well as drove with e-logs and was able to achieve the same miles per week as paper (unless I threw the book out the window and ran 2 log books) as with paper logs. Shippers and receivers must get drivers in and out quickly, and companies need to take ownership in planning trips so as not to expect drivers to exceed HOS regulations. In short, this has nothing to do with e-logs but has everything to do with shipper/receiver timing and basic trip planning. The difference is that a company can’t “ask the driver…can you get the job done” without recourse.

    • Alex

      June 21, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Before say falsifying, can you say stupid, illegitimate 10-14 HOS rules?

      • luis rosario

        June 21, 2018 at 3:12 pm

        its only gotten worst.cant even make my lunch or dinner break,i did this to make life easier for my family .its become so difficult,not home elog hours comming first family second ,i dont understand why a small outfit can be mandated this .it was an easy route 1 day at the most now its 2 days out .thats not efficient.i get paid per load .9 hours out .sleep 10 then i still gotta get back to get the next or the pay wont be there.you follow me .i have tryed an its not working out this elog is terible .if i stop it still working time dont stop.i just want a sense of normalcy.im running now un rested hungry an aggravated.thats not good.soo why is the e log so good ? im the most ez going person ,now i cant even deal with my self.wow thats not wat i sign on for.

    • Smith

      June 21, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      I dont think its about falsifying logs thats the problem ..It has alot to do with being able to stop when youre tired or just take a break when you feel you may need to stretch your legs…Maybe go to the bathroom when YOU need to go …Not being on a time frame and doing these things by a clock..when it tells you that you can do these things…My husband would lay down when he is tired and take a 2 hour nap and get up and drive …And when hes tired again take another nap..and so forth with bathrooms and stretching…Now hes being told when he can do these things and its not right ..Every truck driver doesn’t haul freight ..My husband hauls household goods..Times when loading a house full of furniture is kinda different from backing up to a dock..Not saying thats not a job in its self.. Our job is hard enough without being told when we can lay down or take a break or go to the bathroom.. Theres more to stopping a big truck than just pulling in to a store…

    • Charles evans

      June 21, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      The one and only problem is shippers and receivers, they make appointment then hold the truck up. They know what is coming in and out and should be ready. We should be their first priority and they should have product ready and waiting by the dock so the drivers can be backed in dock by appointment time, get loaded within 30 minutes so they can leave. That’s the problem. I’ve waited up to 8hrs before. You don’t know when to take a nap during those times, some may have just started their day then to have to wait up to 8 hrs to load/unload makes you tired but if you just started your day you can’t go right back to sleep after sleeping 7-10hrs. Also I think the 14 hour rule should be eliminated, and maybe be allowed to drive 12 or so hours on any 24hr period and raise the 70 to 84 or 96.

  • Jim Getten

    June 21, 2018 at 8:00 am

    FUBAR – Google it.

  • Vlademir

    June 21, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    I have not made money in the last 3 years because rates were so cheap! Almost went out of business! I said it all along, ELD will drive rates up! I am glad it’s coming and I hope it stays! I am not getting out of the hole! I think I will see money maybe in about another 6 months if it stays the same! Everything else is up, fuel, insurance, maintenance, tires, and all the regulations and taxes along with it, and yet we are the problem? What about brokers making a killing on loads? Who regulates that? No one thanks! All the money brokers made these past years, no one says anything! I think brokers are a huge part of the issue, and I think they should be regulated!

  • Jeff

    June 21, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    I run in and out of Chicago every week freight has not gone up . Who’s make all the money ??? not the owner operator!!! Let’s start paying truck drivers by the hour like the rest of the country!!! it is the law of the USA. time and ahalf after 40 hours.alot of things would change then

  • Frank Wang

    June 27, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    People, I believe, are just not going towards working as a trucker and we’re over-saturated by constant demands of shipment.