In 2015, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a new Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) mandate to be implemented by the end of 2017. The new mandate has obviously come with a host of questions as it relates to how the mandate will change the trucking industry. The following are answers to the seven most common questions relating to the ELD mandate:
1.) What is an ELD and What is the Final ELD Mandate Rule?
An ELD or electronic logging device is attached to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), synchronizing with the engine to record any and all vehicle movements. An ELD accurately and automatically records all driving activities throughout the day. It also monitors important information and records driving time, such as vehicle movements, engine hours, power and ignition status, location, and the miles driven in each state and jurisdiction. ELD can also report and detect maintenance issues, faults, and malfunctions. The final mandate rule was created with the purpose of ensuring a safer and more efficient working environment for trucking company owners, fleet managers, and drivers.
2.) Who Must Adhere to the ELD Mandate?
In general, the vast majority of CMV drivers are required to follow the ELD mandate. Any driver, who maintains RODs for more than eight days of duty status requires an ELD. This even includes unique situations like oil field drivers, vehicles carrying livestock, and agricultural carrying fleets. The following represents the specific situations that don’t apply or are exempt from the ELD rule brought to you by Knight Transportation:
- Drivers who maintain logs for less than eight days within a 30-day cycle.
- Drivers who don’t need to maintain RODS.
- Tow-away drivers.
- Pre-2000 vehicles.
However, many vehicles that are exempt are still choosing to use electronic logging devices. This is a result of the many benefits of ELDs, such as fault detection, vehicle maintenance, simplified IFTA calculation, and location tracking.
3.) Do ELDs Improve Safety?
In short, yes. The entire purpose of ELDs is to create safer roadways and save lives in the process. The Department of Transportation’s goal is to eliminate road deaths, by 2046. Of course, this is a lofty goal, but the ELD is a great move in that direction. The FMCSA recently released a report that 11.7% fewer accidents were recorded in vehicles with ELDS. In addition, drivers using ELDs had 53% fewer HOS violations.
4.) Will an ELD Shut Down a Truck if The House of Service Limit (HOS) is Surpassed?
No. Remember, the most basic function of ELDs is to track and measure vehicle movements. No ELD device is able to shut down a vehicle. Drivers always have and continue to maintain control over their vehicles. Therefore, even those who exceed HOS limits won’t be disabled.
5.) What is the Benefit of ELDs for Drivers?
The implementation of ELD devices is created to take the burden off of drivers. It is designed to automate tasks, minimize distractions, and reduce violations. This allows drivers to focus on their driving and earning money, instead of other matters. ELDs will, in essence, eliminate Form & Manner violations. It will also solve the problem of falsified or outdated logs and alerts drivers on upcoming HOS violations. Thanks to audible notifications and alerts, drivers are able to stop their vehicles in a timely manner and park in a safe spot. Other benefits of ELDs include GPS tracking, driver scorecards, messaging fleet managers, idle-time tracking. It also has features that allow drivers to communicate easily and distraction-free with dispatchers and fleet managers.
6.) Can ELDs Increase Profits?
ELDs are designed to reduce administrative burdens, eliminate the use of valuable resources, and automate tasks. The features of ELDs, like GPS tracking, effectively allows both commercial drivers and fleet managers to plan better routes. This, in turn, means drivers will get to their destinations at a quicker pace than before, increasing delivery times and profits. Also, idle-time tracking helps identify fuel wastage. It is estimated that $5,600 is spent on idling a year. Therefore, identifying this waste allows drivers and fleet managers to waste less fuel and save money. Imagine how much money can be saved in a whole fleet if $5,600 is spent by just one truck idling.
ELDs can also effectively detect fault codes in real-time. This means managers and drivers are notified immediately when their vehicles need maintenance. ELDs also identify any recurring issues by detecting the history of fault code reports. ELDs also prove drivers are not at fault in accidents in which they might have otherwise been blamed, saving a fleet company money in court costs and insurance increases.
7.) Are ELD Logs Required to be Printed at Roadside?
Drivers are required to transmit hours of service data, for the last seven days of hours of service records, via either web services and email or via local transfer on USB or Bluetooth on the roadside. Drivers are capable of being printed during a roadside inspection or be viewable, without a law enforcement officer having to enter the cab of the truck.
The above are the seven most common questions concerning the ELD mandate. It should be noted that the e-logs that already existed on many trucks, called AOBRDs do not meet the most recent technical specifications as outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They lack basic features, like printouts, graph grids, or displays that ELDs provide. FMCSA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance director Joe DeLorenzo explained the benefit of ELDs over existing e-log tools as follows:
“From a carrier perspective, they may not see a whole lot of difference from the system they are using, but ELDs are more standardized and produce the same output file. Secondly, they capture more information, like engine hours, which is now part of ELD specifications. ELDs also incorporate annotations and edits, allowing drivers to correct or edit records in certain situations while maintaining the original information.”
Overall, the ELD mandate will be a good change within the trucking industry. Once the changes are fully embraced and understood within the industry, there should be a noticeable improvement in the trucking industry as a whole.