Study finds ELDs have NOT lowered crash rates and increased unsafe driving
A group of researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Arkansas issued a report this February “Did Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?” which analyses the effects of the electronic logging device mandate, and they reached two main conclusions:
- The use of ELDs has not reduced the rate of truck crashes
- The frequency of speeding violations, particularly among the small carrier segment, has increased since the mandate took effect
The report mostly focuses on smaller carriers and owner-operators who were considered the most impacted by the mandate, since larger carriers were likely already using ELDs or AOBRDs.
Although there were fewer hours of service violations, crash numbers saw little impact by the enforcement of the ELD mandate.
The report studied drivers between January 1, 2017 and September 1, 2018, which included:
- Nearly a year’s worth of data prior to the December 18, 2017, enforcement deadline of the ELD mandate, and
- Roughly three-month light enforcement period ahead of the April 1, 2018, hard enforcement date
For the pre-enforcement period, researchers said there was an average of 1,717 truck crashes a week. That number spiked during the soft enforcement period (December 17, 2017, to April 1, 2018) to 1,912 crashes a week. After April 1, the number dropped to an average of 1,703 crashes per week.
- Independent owner-operators averaged 154 crashes a week prior to the ELD mandate December 2017 deadline and 160 crashes after hard enforcement began in April 2018.
- Drivers at carriers with between 101 and 1,000 truck averaged 374 crashes a week before the mandate and 361 crashes a week after hard enforcement began.
- Carriers with 1,001 or more trucks saw their crash rates dip slightly, from 244 a week to 240 a week.
Based on this data, the researchers conclude that these numbers do not point to any obvious reduction in accidents due to the ELD mandate.
While accident rates appear unchanged, the report says, unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding appear to have increased over the same period of time. These unsafe driving behaviors were found to be in response to productivity losses caused by the mandate.
According to the report, unsafe driving violations:
- By owner-operators increased by as much as 33.3%, and speeding increased by as much as 31%
- Carriers with between 101 and 1,000 trucks saw only a 6% increase in the number of unsafe driving violations per week after hard enforcement of the mandate began
- Carriers with more than 1,000 trucks saw a 12% increase in unsafe driving violations after ELD enforcement began
“We find that the ELD mandate unequivocally enhanced HOS compliance,” the researchers write. “However, the ELD mandate did not noticeably improve safety, and we are able to produce no statistically significant evidence that ELD adoption by the smaller firms corresponded to any reduction in accident rates.”
The full report is available online.