Cost of ELD mandate too high for small business to bear

By Joyce Brenny, OOIDA member

I have personally fought the ELD mandate every step of the way since I was the chairperson of the Minnesota Trucking Association in 2012. I never believed that professional truck drivers should be mandated to have an electronic log. If they choose to, that is a different story. Forcing them is un-American. What an insult to a group of professionals.

The reality of what this mandate is going to cost our small company is keeping me awake at night and stressing me out beyond words. Back in about 2009 I started doing some research on these things they called "electronic on-board recorders" or EOBRs. I couldn’t believe we were getting prices in the $200- to $300-per-unit range.

I thought that was ridiculous. So we backed off and stuck with our paper logs; they worked just fine and cost way less.

Then the word "mandate" came about, and I really backed off. The last thing our small company needs is to be forced to buy a product we cannot afford. Our drivers also voiced their concern, saying they felt the devices would neither be helpful nor improve safety.

Fast forward to 2016, and now it seems we will be forced to buy a product we cannot afford. Except now the price has gone up to $1,200 per unit. And, yes, that would be per truck.

OK, time for a good ol’ trucking math lesson here: $1,200 per unit times my 55 trucks equals $66,000. Oh wait, we are not done yet. It seems my software company wants their share of the trucker pie. Of course, doesn’t everyone? So to integrate the ELD into our software will cost me another $37,500.

Now back to our math lesson:

  • $66,000 ELD units for 55 trucks
  • $37,500 to integrate ELDs into software

That’s $103,500 total, not including installation, time involved and – oh you know, I am sure someone will want more along the way. "Someone" always does.

My trucking company is estimated to gross $10 million this year. We are on track to obtain a 5 percent profit margin, which should net us $500,000.

But wait. The ELD mandate will take away more than 20 percent of my profit. I cannot afford this mandate.

I guess we can thank our government for taking raises away from my employees, for putting our company in a financial concern, for making us cut back on items that would actually improve safety. Not for the cost of a ridiculous mandate that has not and will never improve safety on our highways. Welcome to the world of trucking, where some days it feels as if we have no choice and no voice.

However, I remain an active OOIDA member, because I believe if we rally behind an organization that is run by real truckers we do have a voice. I will continue to support OOIDA and the push forward, rallying the truckers to say we do not want an ELD mandate. As hardworking Americans, we demand a choice.

No thank you, ELD mandate!

Joyce Brenny is an OOIDA member from St. Cloud, Minn., and the owner of Brenny Transportation, Inc., and Brenny Specialized.