The ELD (electronic logging device) mandate refers to the requirement that each driver’s record of duty status (RODS) be recorded electronically. It’s meant to replace the paper logbook that’s still being used for some drivers to show compliance with hours of service requirements. There’s research suggesting around 60 percent of private and for-hire trucking fleets haven’t yet complied with the new mandate, which requires the purchase of e-log devices, or ELDs. If you’re concerned about what the ELD mandate will mean for your business or your drivers, here’s what you need to know.
ELD devices will need to do more than record driving hours of each truck driver. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), ELDs will also have to maintain a file for the driver of the truck. The accumulated data can be reviewed by commercial vehicle inspectors during routine roadside inspections to confirm compliance with driving hour regulations. Additionally, drivers will be required to:
Some trunking companies fear that ELDs will put them out of business. But the reality is that drivers who make the switch rarely go back to paper logs. Part of the reason is that ELDs are very precise with hours. With paper logs, drivers roundup, so e-logs could actually help drivers gain more hours.
ELDs have been around for about 30 years. In the early years of the technology, the devices were definitely an investment. However, e-log prices have dropped considerably over the years due to advances in technology like the incorporation of smartphone capabilities. When compared to other costs trucking companies typically need to absorb such as permitting and liability insurance, ELDs aren’t likely to be a major cost burden. Studies suggest truck companies are likely to benefit from added potential savings from regulatory and fuel costs.
E-logs are simply replacements for paper logbooks. What they can do, though, is making it easier for driving hours to be quickly verified and evaluated during roadside inspections, which means drivers will be able to get back on the road faster. The only time law enforcement officials or inspectors will receive ELD data is if there is just cause to inspect it. Possible reasons include:
ELDs don’t help drivers make driving decisions. However, there’s research showing driver safety may be improved by better tracking of driving hours. For instance, dispatchers may such info to make better dispatching decisions. Also, drivers who are staying within the permitted number of driving hours are more likely to be alert behind the wheel.
Smartphones can track many things, including location, but such devices are not an acceptable substitute for ELDs. In order to be compliant, e-log devices need to be connected to a truck’s engine. Plus, GPS-enabled phones aren’t able to accurately track distance.
One possible way to legally get more time to have an ELD device installed is to use what some consider an acceptable transitional technology — automatic onboard recording devices. AOBRDS automatically track each driver’s hours. Collected data is then sent to law enforcement officials for review. If trucking companies or truckers working independently purchase an AOBRD before December 18, 2017, they will have an extra two years to make the switch to e-log devices.
According to the American Trucking Associations, there are nearly 4 million truck drivers in the United States. The purpose of the ELD mandate that applies to all of these drivers is to ensure compliance with federal laws limiting drivers to 11 hours total of daily driving. Enforcement of the mandate starts in December of 2017, although a grace period extends full enforcement until the spring of 2018 (April 1st). The only exemption from the e-log requirement is for drivers of vehicles made prior to the year 2000.
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