Commercial truck drivers and carrier managers have likely heard of a new federal rule that will take place near the close of the year: The Electronic Logging Device Mandate will be instituted December 18 and will affect many trucking companies across the nation. The ELD Mandate, set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will require that most trucks have an FMCSA certified Electronic Logging Device (ELD) installed, and that they carry up to eight supporting documents with them. An electronic logging device is intended to track the driver’s Records Of Duty Status (RODS) or hours of service. It tracks the hours that a truck is in motion, when it is in rest, and what the driver is doing through the day as they drive, work on-duty, sleep, or go off duty. According to the FMCSA, the requirement that ELDs are used across the country in commercial vehicles will improve safety on the roads and is projected to save 25 lives a year, save operational and maintenance costs in the long run, and reduce the harassment of drivers from carriers, which has been common with previous systems such as paper logs and even automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRD).
While the ELD mandate applies to drivers that are required to keep Hours of Service (HOS) with records of duty status (RODs), there are exceptions. Trucks that are exempted from the ELD rule are short haul drivers that use paper records of duty status for no more than 8 days in a 30 day period, drive away/tow away drivers, when driving the vehicle that is the actual product to be delivered, vehicles that were manufactured before 2000, and rental trucks rented for less than eight days.
This new regulation may sound confusing, but what it essentially does is federally require that drivers that are already required to keep HOS and RODs are actually following the hours of service, sets mandated standards for ELDs and their providers, and as previously mentioned, prevents harassment of drivers by using their ELDs. Although the mandate takes affect December 18, 2017, a carrier that does not have an ELD installed on their vehicle will not be put out of service for not having the device, yet they will still receive violations for hours of service that may put them out of service. They may also receive a fine, the amount depending on the state that they are in. Those found in violation after the mandate begins on December 18 but before the end of the grace period (April 1) will have violation points added to their CSA score.
Many carriers already use electronic logging devices, but if a carrier does not have one yet it is best to prepare while time is still left. Drivers and other carrier personnel should receive training as early as possible. Depending on the size of your team and their adaptability, training can take anywhere from 30 days to 6 months. You will also need time to find an ELD provider that meets FMCSA standards and works for you. Another option for lowering costs of the transition is to provide your team with tablets for each vehicle that is in use. This will save your employees the trouble of using their own devices. You will want to learn as much as you can about the system and configure it to your fleet’s needs. We recommend that you attend one of the training events around the country offered by the FMCSA that will present an in-depth ELD implementation and ask any questions that you may have. A list of events can be found on the FMCSA website, but there are only a few left.