The clock is ticking.

The ELD mandate compliance date is December 18, 2017, and it is approaching fast.

Despite several attempts to delay the FMCSA’s ELD rule, the mandate is all set to take effect as scheduled. After the compliance deadline, eligible truckers would require compliant electronic logging devices to record their Hours of Service and Record of Duty Status information. Paper logs won’t work after December 17.

By now, thousands of fleets have successfully installed and implemented electronic logging devices. They are making sure that their drivers are familiar and totally comfortable with using ELDs before the deadline.

According to an estimate, 81% of large fleets have successfully adopted ELDs. However, the number of smaller fleets and owner-operators is lower than that.

If you are one of those companies or truckers who haven’t installed ELDs yet, you are already late. The ELD installation process can be time-consuming. There is a lot that goes into a successful transition, and for that, you need ample time.

To help you prepare better for the upcoming ELD mandate, we have compiled a list of 10 things that you should know before the ELD mandate becomes mandatory on December 18, 2017.

Let’s begin.

1. The ELD mandate isn’t going to be delayed

Unfortunately, there are still some trucking companies and truckers who are pinning their hopes on the ELD mandate getting delayed.

It is not going to be delayed.

The ELD mandate compliance date is December 18, 2017, and it is not going to change.

Let’s look at what has happened so far. Then you’ll be able to see the picture more clearly and rationally.

There is a definite pattern here.

The lawmakers are not willing to change the ELD mandate implementation deadline. They realize that technology needs to be incorporated in the trucking industry to increase road safety.

According to an estimate, the upcoming ELD mandate will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries every year. That’s a significant leap forward towards saving American lives and making roads more secure for everyone — for the general public as well as America’s hardworking truck drivers.

Considering all these facts and the way all attempts to repeal or delay the ELD mandate have gone so far, it is safe to say that the ELD mandate implementation deadline isn’t going to be changed.

It is still December 18, 2017.

2. Buying AOBRDs now isn’t a good idea

According to the FMCSA’s ELD rule, vehicles equipped with AOBRDs have two additional years to comply with the ELD mandate.

In other words, for vehicles that have compliant AOBRDs (Automatic On-Boarding Recording Devices), the ELD mandate implementation deadline is December 16, 2019.

Because of this two-year extension, which is commonly known as the “grandfather” clause, some carriers and truckers are now buying AOBRDs.

It is not a good idea to buy AOBRDs now.

Let us explain why.

  • Buying AOBRDs now will only extend the deadline by two years. It means that you will purchase AOBRDs now and then replace them with ELDs within 24 months. It is not a financially viable decision.
  • Second, AOBRDs will give you some breathing room until December 16, 2019, but only if you do not expand your fleet. It’s because, as per the ELD mandate, you cannot buy an AOBRD for a new truck after December 18, 2017. You will have to buy an ELD for that new truck.

So, what should you do?

First, you should not buy an AOBRD at this stage. You should buy a compliant and certified ELD, which would keep you compliant in all scenarios.

However, if you absolutely need the flexibility that AOBRDs offer for two more years, consider buying a hybrid compliant solution like Motive.

Motive ELDs can work as fully compliant AOBRDs until December 16, 2019.

In the Motive Dashboard for Fleets, you can enable the Motive ELD to work as a fully compliant AOBRD with just a few clicks and enjoy all the flexible options and customizability of AOBRDs.

After December 16, 2019, when AOBRDs won’t work anymore, you can simply turn off the settings and start using the same device as a 100% compliant and FMCSA-registered ELD solution.

This way, you won’t have to buy two separate devices and spend more than you have to.

Motive has got you covered in both scenarios.

3. Drivers have the final authority on editing

Some people like to think that the upcoming ELD mandate is an attempt to invade drivers’ privacy and compromise the authority they have over their records and information.

That is just not true.

In fact, the ELD mandate protects drivers in multiple ways.

One of the ways the mandate protects drivers is that after the ELD mandate is implemented, drivers will have the final authority on editing and driver records.

If a fleet administrator, carrier, or fleet manager edits a driver’s log, it will be in a pending state unless the driver accepts or rejects the edit. If the driver rejects the edit, there will be a reconciliation process.

It is important to understand that it is the driver who is responsible for his Hours of Service information. The ELD system just maintains it, but it is ultimately the responsibility of drivers to make sure that the information is correct and in compliance with the regulations.

This is why, when someone edits his records, it is up to the driver to either accept it or reject it.

4. ELDs protect drivers against driver coercion

As mentioned in the previous point, the ELD mandate gives drivers the final authority to either reject or accept any edit made by an administrator.

In other words, it protects drivers against driver coercion and driver harassmen, which has been a common problem in the trucking industry.

Sometimes, a fleet manager or a trucking company owner might ask drivers to drive beyond their Hours of Service limits. Since everything’s recorded on paper logs, there was no way to identify this exploitation and completely stop driver coercion.

Now that ELDs record everything, drivers are less likely to be coerced into driving more than they are supposed to. Moreover, the ELD mandate enables and encourages drivers to file driver coercion complaints to the FMCSA.

The FMCSA suggests that driver coercion complaints must be filed within 90 days of the coercion incident. ELD records, emails, and chats can be presented by drivers as evidence.

If driver coercion is proved, motor carriers can be fined up to $11,000.

5. You need to account for unassigned drive time

After transitioning to ELDs, fleet managers and commercial drivers will also have to focus on unassigned drive time.

In short, you can’t have unassigned trips. It is questionable under the law.

ELDs record each and every mile vehicles cover and assign them to drivers. If there are any unassigned miles, ELDs mark them as ‘unassigned driving time’, which DOT inspectors don’t want to see.

If some drive time isn’t assigned to any driver, the next time a driver logs into the ELD system, he will be prompted by the ELD and asked if the unassigned drive time belongs to him. Carriers have to reconcile unassigned hours.

If carriers assign the unassigned drive time to a driver, he will have the final authority to either accept or reject it, to avoid driver coercion.

Before December 18, 2017, it is important for fleet managers and carriers to understand how unassigned driving time works. They need to review it and reconcile these extra hours, or it will show up in a DOT audit.

6. ELDs must be registered and certified

During a recent address, the FMCSA reminded safety officers that ELDs must be registered.

Danielle Smith, an FMCSA representative, said:

“It is not an ELD unless it is listed on our website. That’s going to be part of what you do during an inspection; you are going to verify that it is a registered ELD.”

In order to be 100% compliant after the ELD mandate deadline, make sure that you are only using FMCSA-registered electronic logging devices.

Use the FMCSA’s list of self-certified ELDs.

If an ELD isn’t listed there, you should not purchase it because it won’t make you compliant.

7. ELD connectivity medium is crucial

Bring-Your-Own-Drive or BYOD ELD solutions are getting more and more popular. Motive is also one of them.

With BYOD ELD systems, carriers do not have to spend a lot of money buying in-cab tablets and devices for displaying HOS/RODS information. Carriers can instead leverage their drivers’ smartphones for that.

Engine-connected ELDs relay data to drivers’ mobile devices and make them compliant.

However, there is a catch.

The medium through which the engine-connected ELDs sync with drivers’ mobile devices is important. In fact, it can be the difference between compliance and noncompliance.

Generally, there are three ways ELDs connect with mobile devices to relay data:

The FMCSA recently confirmed that cellular-based ELDs are a compliance risk. If a driver is driving in an area with spotty or no cellular coverage, ELDs won’t be able to connect with the drivers’ mobile devices and update the HOS/RODS information. If they are stopped by a roadside inspector, they could be fined and rendered non-compliant.

On the other hand, Bluetooth and USB connections are much more reliable. They do not depend on cellular networks. Therefore, these connections ensure that data is always transferred and up-to-date even if drivers are driving in areas with no cellular coverage.

8. ELD features are just as important

Although electronic logging devices or ELDs are primarily meant for complying with the ELD mandate, they are much more than that.

With the right kind of ELD, you get several useful features that can shape how you do your business, automate numerous tasks, reduce administrative burden, increase productivity, and maximize profits.

Without these ELD features, you will not be able to compete in an evolving trucking industry that is now starting to leverage new technologies.

The Motive ELD solution offers the following features and benefits:

  • GPS Tracking — GPS tracking allows you to track vehicles in real-time with meter-level precision, along with vehicle location history with breadcrumb trails.
  • Log Auditing — Motive ELDs automatically audit drivers’ logs and send real-time alerts to fleet managers in case of upcoming HOS violations, so fleet managers can make sure that any of their drivers do not violate Hours-of-Service regulations.
  • Messaging — With the Motive ELD solution, drivers and fleet managers can stay in touch with a streamlined messaging system. Individual messages, images, current location, broadcast messages to multiple drivers, and read receipts are some of the features available.
  • IFTA Reporting — IFTA calculation can be overwhelming. However, Motive ELDs automatically calculate the miles traveled in each jurisdiction and calculate IFTA reports, saving you thousands of dollars and dozens of hours.
  • Idle-Time Tracking — With this feature, fleets can identify drivers who idle for too long or too frequently, put a stop to vehicle idling, and save thousands of dollars every month by reducing fuel wastage.
  • Vehicle Diagnostics — Get real-time alerts whenever a fault code is detected. Fleet managers and truck drivers can also view historical fault code reports to identify recurring vehicle issues.
  • Driver Scorecards — Identify drivers with dangerous driving behaviors, such as hard braking, hard cornering, and hard acceleration. Highlight their mistakes, rectify the errors, and improve the overall safety of your fleet.
  • Motive Alerts — Administrators can set up alerts for proactive driver and vehicle management. They can then receive real-time alerts whenever something important happens, such as a hard-braking event or HOS violation, etc.

9. The truth behind OOS criteria enforcement postponement

The CVSA recently announced — as well as informed the FMCSA — that the out-of-service criteria for ELD rule will be enforced from April 1, 2018.

Although the CVSA made it very clear that the ELD mandate implementation deadline would be still December 18, 2017, some people are spreading false rumors. As the compliance deadline grows closer, it is important to understand the nitty-gritty details of OOS criteria enforcement postponement.

The ELD mandate deadline is still December 18, 2017. If any eligible trucker does not have a compliant ELD system after that date, they will be fined and cited as per the inspector’s discretion.

However, they will not be placed out of service.

After April 1, 2018, safety inspectors will resume placing drivers out-of-service for ELD mandate violation.

This new phased-in approach is meant to provide a bit more time to fleets to successfully implement ELDs. Apart from the enforcement of out-of-service criteria, it does not change anything, and fleets still need compliant ELDs by December 18, 2017.

Otherwise, they will be fined.

10. ELD implementation will take time

The process of ELD implementation is a long one, and it will take time.

If you haven’t adopted and installed electronic logging devices by now, you are already late. The compliance deadline is just a couple of months away now.

Finding a reliable and certified ELD provider, researching competitors, confirming its compliance status, evaluating different features, installing ELDs, and training your drivers and fleet administrators, consume a lot of time.

Experts believe that as the compliance deadline grows closer, a possible price hike and shortage of ELD are on the cards.

Make sure that you are fully prepared and ready before that.

What’s next?

If you are looking for a reliable and certified ELD provider, try Motive.

The Motive ELD is FMCSA-registered, easy-to-use, and packed with plenty of useful fleet management features for fleets of all sizes.

Request a free demo today.