Come December 2017, the paper logbooks that truck drivers have been required to use to track their hours of work and rest since the 1930s will be history for interstate trucking operations. The ELD mandate was ranked the number-one issue facing the industry in the American Transportation Research Institute’s Annual Survey for 2016, a jump of five places from 2015.
Essentially, the FMCSA mandate requires electronic logging devices for all trucks model-year 2000 or newer engaged in interstate commerce. Suppliers of ELDs must conform to technical specifications, certify their ELDs, and register them with FMCSA.
However, the most common mistake fleets make when adopting ELDs is trying to do it too quickly, says Tom Bray, senior editor with safety and compliance product/service provider J.J. Keller. “It takes time to select a good system that is a match for your fleet, develop the compliance culture necessary to operate in the electronic logging universe, train everyone in how to use the system, and roll it out in an orderly fashion,” says Bray. The first step fleets need to take to be ready for ELD compliance? “Accept that change is good and that keeping paper logs has become unmanageable, inaccurate and inefficient,” says Tom Kwan, spokesman for ELD provider FleetComplete.
The ELD rule is based on a series of previous rules, each of which were building upon prior regulations. This is one of the key reasons that the products available on the market right now can be confusing to fleets looking to become compliant. Today, many drivers and fleets are using automatic on-board recording devices to reduce paperwork.
If requested by law enforcement, drivers must also be able to immediately present the required AOBRD display information for the previous seven days, plus the current day. While there are an array of differences among the ELD, AOBRD, and EOBR devices on the market, they do share a few elements in common:
• They all track a driver’s Hours of Service electronically
• They all need to be “integrally synchronized” with a truck’s engine, making sure drive segments are captured
• Most will pass data to a system where a safety or fleet manager can see e-logs in a near real-time basis, allowing everyone to be on the same page
In writing the ELD rule, the FMCSA is aware of the cost burden it could be putting on fleets. While it recognizes there’s a net-benefit from the paperwork savings alone, it doesn’t want to saddle drivers and fleets with trucking technology that isn’t affordable.
To address those ELD cost concerns, the FMCSA has provided that smartphones, tablets, and rugged handhelds can be used as long as the system as a whole meets ELD requirements, including a hardwired connection to the truck’s engine.