The ELD Mandate: Are You Ready?

Written By: Kelly Frederick, Transport Pro

The e-log mandate is set to take effect in December 2017. For many companies and drivers, this is overwhelming, so let’s start with the basics. What is an ELD? The acronym stands for electronic logging device, and is designed specifically for commercial motor vehicles. The logging device tracks the vehicle’s location, and allows the driver or agent to add annotations to help with explaining or correcting a log. However, the design of the ELD only allows limited edits, and the original record generated by the device cannot be changed. According to the FMCSA, this protects the driver’s record of duty status (RODS) from being manipulated.

The use of ELDs will eliminate paper logs. Although, drivers will still be required to keep supporting documentation on file. Drivers must submit supporting documentation within 13 days of receiving the documents, and the carriers must retain these documents for at least six months. Supporting documents that drivers are required to turn in include: bills of lading, expense receipts, settlements, trip records, and mobile communication records.

E-log devices must meet a specific set of FMCSA requirements. Drivers currently required to keep paper logs must switch to an ELD. The device must have the capability to track the following items: date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles, driver data, vehicle identification data, and motor carrier identification data. An ELD also records the following data in 60 second intervals: when the vehicle is started or shut down, when the vehicle is in motion and when the driver records a status change. An ELD can recognize the difference between on duty and off duty driving.The device must be able to provide an on-demand update during roadside inspections. Though, ELDs are not required to collect data about vehicle performance, such as braking and speed, according to the FMCSA. The devices are only required to collect data, which in turn determines HOS regulations.

There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule. Drivers will be exempt if: they keep RODS eight days or less out of every 30 working days, they work in a driveaway or towaway operation, or if they drive a vehicle that is older than a 2000 model.

ELD manufacturers must meet certain technical specifications, and be certified and registered with the FMCSA.Technical specifications exist because it assists manufacturers in developing compliant ELDs. Additionally, the specifications help to support driver privacy, enable compliance certification, and provide easy access for officials.

Additionally, the use of ELDs prohibits harassment of drivers and offers recourse for drivers who have been harassed. According to an article by Overdrive Online, the harassment safeguards take effect upon implementation of an ELD, even if that is before the mandate takes effect December 2017. The FMCSA has laid out a specific process for filing harassment complaints. So, what constitutes harassment? According to the Overdrive Online article, a carrier cannot force a commercial vehicle operator to drive when he or she is tired, sick, out of hours, or states that they cannot drive safely due to fatigue or unfavorable weather conditions. Even if there are no HOS violations, action against the carrier may be taken.

ELDs can save exorbitant amounts of time for both office personnel and drivers by reducing or eliminating paperwork. It keeps dispatchers updated and helps them to plan loads better with HOS in mind. The FMCSA realizes that implementing ELD practices are not cheap, but in the long run will reduce costs for companies and help them to net a greater revenue. To help companies withstand the cost, the FMCSA will allow smartphones and tablets to be used as long as they meet certain specifications, are certified and listed on the FMCSA Website.

The FMCSA predicts about 3 million drivers to be impacted. Canadian and Mexican-domiciled drivers will be required to use ELDs while operating on U.S. roadways. With the elimination of paper logs, companies can expect to save an average of $705 per driver per year, which equates to about $1.6 billion. Carriers can expect to save around $400 million per year by reducing crashes by fatigued drivers.

Companies have until December 2017 to implement certified ELDs to record hours of service. Companies that are already using ELDs will have until 2019 to ensure compliance, according to ELDs must be able to not only record hours of service, but any changes in a driver’s status. Though not required, modern ELDs have the ability to monitor multiple things, including hard braking, idleness, and speeding.

It is best not to wait until the deadline to implement ELD practices for three reasons: to increase your ROI by slashing paper costs, reduce the amount of paperwork, and increase communication with drivers. The mandate is primarily in place to keep drivers safe and ensure that they are following the hours of service rules. It is in place to heighten overall road safety.  ELDs can also serve as tools for productivity and efficiency. 75 percent of carriers that have already implemented the mandate have reported stronger coordination between drivers and loads.

Stay tuned for a follow up article, which will discuss the three phases of implementing the ELD mandate.