The research says that the ELD mandate does not currently improve safety – this is according to Alex Scott of Northeastern University, Andre Balthop of the University of Arkansas, and Jason Miller of Michigan State University.
Alex Scott led a team that evaluated inspection and crash data from the FMCSA. The research shows that the widespread adoption of ELDs had no measurable impact on the number of accidents. In that same 2 year timeframe, Hours of Service violations decreased by 51.7%.
Unsafe driving infractions have increased for small carriers and owner operators.
“Our research also provides another example of how policy interventions are fraught with uncertainty in complex systems with many interconnections and possible feedbacks,” the report states.
These offsetting results, the researchers say, could have been predicted. The authors found that even before the ELD mandate, drivers were heavily incentivized to avoid accidents, and this didn’t change after the ELD mandate. The ELD mandate was designed to reduce driver fatigue, a cause of some accidents, but it failed to encourage other safe driving behaviors, and may have actually increased unsafe driving behaviors.
“Given the legal liabilities involved with being in a crash when outside hours-of-service limits, drivers are incentivized to be extra cautious when driving beyond limits. The ELD mandate has not done much to change the driver calculus in this respect, and so it is perhaps not surprising that we fail to uncover significant accident reductions,” the paper concludes.