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and/or adjusting your rates. The key here is to sit down in advance of implementing the system and do realis- ic impact and ROI studies, and then make adjustments as necessary to protect the bottom line.

Long term leadership At the American Trucking Associations’

Calculations to determine impact and RO “Autonomous technology is a five-to- 1. Gains in efficiency (better use of

annual meeting in October Spear set the tenor for what to look for going forward, where he highlighted longer term concerns such as the driver shortage and autonomous technology.

I point to these factors on the plus side: ten-ye r-out issue that is being largely drivers and equipment);

2. Reductions in back-office costs (less auditing and filing);

driven by the auto industry. Te commercial sector shares the same roads. If we are talking connected vehicles, connected to infrastructure, what is the regulatory framework? I don’t want that being designed and handed to the federal and state

regulators by the auto industry alone,” Spear says.

3. Eliminating inefficiencies in the operation, such as excessive waiting times becoming visible (you can only fix what you can see); and

our industry has a voice, and whatever is adopted in the future is good for our

4. Improved compliance and risk positioning, which can lead to lower insurance rates and fewer fines.

“I want to be at the table and make sure

MYTH: These systems are very expensive; there is no way we can afford one This was true in the past. However, it

was not due to the ELDs. What led to the high cost of the systems was that the ELD function was normally tied to an expensive communications and tracking system. The multiple-function nature of the system combined with the cost of the “new” tech- nology involved (when GPS and unit-based communications were new) is what led to these systems costing thousands of dollars per unit. The early on-board systems that were

tied to communications and tracking systems also required extensive in-cab and back-office hardware and software systems. The high cost of the overall system was justified by providing customers with requested service. Being able to track the vehicle and communicate instantly with the driver justified the cost before cheaper tracking and

trucking, but without a voting majority on the Hill, Spear says, ATA has to exert some push back on the agencies and try to find some balance to work with regulators in a constructive way and not in a way that’s harmful or harbors an agenda.

industry and not harmful. Tat requires just stepping up our game and focusing on what the trends are. Here is a technology that could possibly deal with safety, emissions and the environment. It could deal with productivity. It could deal with driver shortage. Tere are a lot of defined gains from it, but we need to understand what that’s going to look like and what is required of our industry to make that happen. Tat’s not clear, so I’m not quick to embrace that as the future, but I’m quick to say that we need to be at the table and drive the outcome.” Te regulatory front is always key for

Spear says the enemy isn’t regulations; it’s

communications methods came into existence. However, this has changed. There are

modular systems available that have elec- tronic log stand-alone functionality. Prices vary, but a good reliable system can cost as little as a couple of hundred dollars for hard- ware and a few dollars a month service fee. Offsetting these costs are the benefits

that the system will bring. More efficient use of the driver’s time (no more filling out paper logs!), no purchasing one or two paper logbooks per month for each driver, and no auditing and filing of paper logs are all direct benefits that can offset the cost. Indirect benefits that the system will

bring include better performance from the drivers (reduced speed and idling), better distribution of the workload, the ability to see and control waiting time, improved CSA scores, and a better safety and compli- ance position. When the cost/benefit calculations are made, it becomes clear fairly quickly that

bad regulations. We don’t mind regulations. We are used to them. We just want very good, clear regulations. Tings that work and can be complied with. We haven’t seen a lot of that lately, and that’s an area of focus that we need to step up and work with the agencies to really help shape what that outcome is going to look like and ensure that it’s not damaging to the industry going forward.” And of course, the strategy could change

based on the outcome of the November elections (this article was written before the election) , but Spear says that trucking’s story won’t. “I don’t worry about it. Largely because it doesn’t change our story. We’ve won in

20 BEHIND THE WHEEL ~ Q3 Fall 2016

BEHIND THE WHEEL — Q4 Winter 2016 31

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