The final electronic logging device (ELD) rule was published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2015, but now the compliance deadline for the ELD mandate is in just 60 days.
According to the mandate, most commercial drivers will be required to be equipped with FMCSA-registered electronic logging devices after December 18, 2017. The era of using paper logs to record Hours-of-Service (HOS) and Record of Duty Status (RODS) information is over. After December 18, 2017, all that information should be automatically recorded by engine-connected ELDs.
We wrote this blog post as a reminder that if you haven’t installed ELDs yet, you only have 60 days.
The ELD mandate isn’t getting delayed
You may have heard rumors that the ELD mandate would get delayed, but this is false. Although the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) made several attempts in the U.S. courts to delay and repeal the ELD mandate, those attempts were made in vain. OOIDA also filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Seventh Circuit of Courts ruled in favor of the ELD rule, but to no avail. The Supreme Court denied the rehearing petition, ending OOIDA’s legal battle.
Following these attempts, there were additional bills introduced to Congress that would have delayed the ELD rule. One of those bills was introduced by the U.S. Representative Brian Babin, which would have delayed the ELD mandate until at least September 30, 2018. However, Congress voted 246-173 against the amendment.
Despite repeated attempts to delay it, the ELD mandate is still set to take effect on December 18, 2017.
After this date, drivers without ELDs will face heavy fines and penalties. Not only can this disturb the offender’s organization’s operations, it can also result in customer loss and falling behind in a competitive trucking industry.
Do you need ELDs?
Although the final ELD rule applies to most commercial motor vehicles and drivers, it does not apply to everyone.
Those that are exempt from the ELD mandate fall into one of these four categories:
- Driveaway-towaway drivers and operations
- Short-haul drivers who don’t have to maintain RODS
- Short-haul drivers who do have to maintain RODS because they have exceeded their short-haul limitation, but only for 8 days or less in any 30-day period
- Vehicles with pre-2000 engines
However, there are two important things to note about these categories:
1. Installing ELDs for short-haul drivers
Although short-haul drivers are not required to have ELDs, many fleets are installing them anyway. This is because some short-haul drivers have to drive beyond short-haul limitations for more than 8 days in a 30-day period, but knowing when and how often this will happen is not always easy to predict. To be on the safe side, short-haul fleets are preemptively installing electronic logging devices. By doing so, they eliminate the risk of violating the mandate and the inevitable scramble to install an ELD before the limitation is exceeded.
Short-haul fleets that equip their vehicles with ELDs also reap the benefits, including:
- Reducing fuel wastage with the idle-time tracking feature
- Improving fleet’s safety by monitoring dangerous driving behaviors
- Reducing administrative burden with automated IFTA calculations
- A streamlined communication system
- Vehicle diagnostics
- Proactive vehicle and driver alerts
2. A pre-2000 engine model is exempt from the ELD mandate, even if the vehicle it is in was made after 2000There has been some confusion in the industry around the fourth category. When the FMCSA originally declared the ELD mandate, the language was not clear on whether vehicles manufactured before the year 2000 were exempt, or if it strictly applied to engines made before 2000, regardless of the vehicles it was in. Since then, the FMCSA has confirmed that the exemption applies to the engine. Any vehicle with an engine manufactured before 2000 is exempt, even if the vehicle model the engine is wired to was manufactured in 2000 or later.
What is the OOS criteria enforcement delay?
To ensure wider adoption and adherence to the ELD mandate, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) decided on a phased-in approach for implementing the ELD mandate. This is called the out of service (OOS) criteria enforcement delay. The OOS criteria enforcement delay means that if an eligible vehicle does not have an FMCSA-registered ELD after December 18, 2017, it would not be placed out of service.
This does not mean that the driver won’t be fined, either.
Drivers who do not comply with the ELD rule after the implementation deadline would be cited and fined at road inspector’s discretion. The only difference is that they won’t be placed out of service until April 01, 2018.
After April 01, 2018, safety inspectors would resume placing vehicles out of service.
It is important to remember that this does not change the ELD mandate deadline. In the letter that the CVSA sent to the FMCSA to inform about this new phased-in approach, Collin B. Mooney, who is the Executive Director of the CVSA, said:
“I also want to assure you that, despite what opponents of the mandate may argue, the enforcement community is ready to begin enforcement of the requirement on Dec. 18, 2017. On that date, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel will begin documenting violations on roadside inspection reports and, at the jurisdiction’s discretion, will issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD.”
In short, the OOS criteria enforcement delay does not change the ELD mandate deadline.
Violators can still be cited and fined after December 18, 2017. Inspectors just won’t place them out of service until April 01, 2018.
The many dangers of last-minute ELD compliance
Many fleet owners are waiting until the very last moment to install ELDs. This is a grave mistake that could easily backfire.
There is no benefit in delaying the process of ELD implementation. However, there are several disadvantages:
1. ELD supply shortage
A recent study found that approximately 60% fleets have not installed ELDs yet and are still relying on paper logs.
With only 60 days left until the mandate takes effect, this can quickly turn south for those fleets. ELD vendors may run out of ELDs due to lack of manufacturing demand, resulting in an ELD supply shortage. Some ELD companies are already telling customers to expect deliveries in 8 to 10 weeks. As of today, the ELD mandate is just 8 weeks away, meaning any fleets that do not already have ELDs installed have already missed the deadline.
This can potentially halt their trucking operations, impacting their ability to complete deliveries and retain customers. They also face hefty fines and penalties because of noncompliance.
2. A possible price hike
An ELD supply shortage is bound to lead to a device price hike. With an increase in demand over a short period of time, vendors will have no choice but to increase their prices. Fleets will be forced to pay significantly more than they would before the mandate takes effect.
3. Unreliable ELD solutions
There are a lot of considerations to make when buying an ELD solution, like
Fleet managers waiting until the eleventh hour will likely find that their first-choice ELD vendor can’t deliver in time, leading them to resort to less-desired options that may be unreliable.
It is important to understand that ELDs are a new technology with a learning curve. Truck drivers and fleet managers will need time to learn about how the ELD works, understand e-log applications, how to backup documents and transfer data, and so on. By not adopting an ELD solution with enough time to learn how it works, fleets will find themselves far behind their competition who have had months to successfully familiarize themselves with their own ELDs, and potentially face simple mistakes that lead to hefty fines and penalties.
Start the ELD implementation process now
With just 60 days to go, fleets without ELDs need to start the ELD implementation process right now.
Request a free demo now, and one of our product specialists will get in touch with you. If you have any questions about the Motive ELD/fleet management solution, call 844-325-9230 or send an email at email@example.com. Our 24/7 customer support team is always available to answer any queries.