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Tractor trailor riding down the roadThe cost of transporting goods by truck, which has already risen 28 percent this year, is probably going up even more. New rules that are effectively reducing the hours drivers can be behind the wheel are now being enforced nationwide and aggravating the existing trucking shortage.

As the news website Bloomberg reported:

“On Sunday, police nationwide began enforcing rules requiring most big rigs to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to record driver hours. While truckers have long been barred from driving more than 11 hours a day, the new ELDs prevent them from fudging their times on paper logs. That means more trucks are likely to be parked when drivers hit their limits.”

The rule went into effect in December, but many states did not begin enforcing them until April 1.

Even so, the load-to-truck ratio for owner-operators in January, the first full month following the ELD mandate, jumped to 10 loads for every truck. That was three times higher than the previous January.  (Information based on DAT load board postings.) And a DAT survey found roughly 70 percent of truckers who have begun using ELDs said they earned less money and 65 percent said they were forced to drive fewer miles.

The trucking industry was already struggling with a shortage of drivers at the same time demand for their service has been increasing thanks to a surge in online shopping.  The severe winter weather hasn’t helped, either.

The devices log driver hours, which have to be turned over to regulators and can be checked by authorities during routine inspections or traffic stops. After 11 hours on the road, a driver must rest for 10 hours.

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