The upcoming FMCSA’s ELD mandate has received a lot of attention during the last couple of months.
After OOIDA attempted several times to delay and repeal the mandate, the Supreme Court of America ruled in favor of the ELD mandate and effectively ended the legal battle. The case was then shifted to Congress with a couple of amendment bills that would have delayed the ELD mandate. But Congress also voted down the attempt to delay the ELD rule and ended most of the speculations.
Now, the ELD mandate is all set to take effect from December 18, 2017. However, not all truck drivers and trucking company owners are fully prepared for it.
It is a huge mistake to assume that the process of ELD installation won’t take enough time. Many fleet administrators are postponing the ELD implementation process until the last moment, which is an error that would backfire.
The ELD implementation process is a long and time-consuming one. You need to take care of several aspects, most of which can be technical. For instance, during the ELD implementation process, you will have to at least do the following:
- Learn about electronic logging devices (ELDs), the ELD rule, its exceptions, and its different provisions.
- Research different ELD providers.
- Compare prices and features of different ELD solutions in the market.
- Shortlist a few ELD solutions and check their compliance status (more about it later in this article).
- Buy electronic logging devices (assuming your favorite ELD provider has ELDs available in stock).
- Install ELDs
- Train your drivers so they could operate these electronic logging devices after December 18, 2017.
- Train fleet administrators and managers on how to use ELDs, leverage ELD data, storing mandatory documents, managing drivers, reconciling unassigned driving time, and more.
- Doing a practice run for at least a couple of months to make sure that drivers and fleet administrators have become comfortable and familiar with using electronic logging devices.
There are a lot of things to do and not enough time.
We have discussed most of these aspects in different blog posts. We have also specifically highlighted the reasons why you shouldn’t delay ELD implementation on multiple occasions.
In this blog post, we are going to highlight another important point — perhaps the most important one.
It is the fact that not all ELDs that are available in the market make you compliant.
Annette Sandberg on the ELDs compliance issue
Ex-FMCSA head, Annette Sandberg, during the 2017 FTR Transportation Conference, said:
“As a former regulator, the biggest concern I have is the number of ELD vendors that are currently on the FMCSA list [of approved vendors] that probably should not be.”
Annette Sandberg also recalled a real-life example in which she found out that a popular company, which sold electronic logging devices to a carrier with over 3,000 trucks, didn’t actually have a compliant ELD solution.
She explained how she spoke with a carrier that had installed an ELD solution — which was listed in the FMCSA’s list of self-certified ELDs — but felt “something wasn’t right” with it.
Sandberg visited the carrier and examined the ELD solution.
After carefully vetting and examining the installed ELD system, Sandberg said that it was evident that the ELD company should not have been self-certified.
In fact, the company’s ELD solution was so outdated that, according to Sandberg, it was not even minimally compliant with the existing electronic onboard recording device (AOBRD) regulations, which has been effective for the last 30 years.
She said, “That represents a concern I have been having, with carriers out there buying devices and hoping they will be fine but later find out that there are problems.”
Not all ELDs are compliant
The gist of the matter is that not all electronic logging devices are compliant.
It is up to carriers to make sure that their chosen ELD system is 100% compliant and meets the criteria set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Here are a few things you, as a carrier, can do before choosing an ELD solution:
1. The FMCSA’s list of self-certified ELDs
Like it or not, this is the first place you should start your research for a compliant ELD solution.
It is true that not all ELDs that are listed in the FMCSA’s list of self-certified ELDs will be 100% compliant, but still, it is as good a place as any to start.
On the other hand, any ELD system that isn’t on the FMCSA’s list is certainly not going to be compliant.
Therefore, we highly recommend that you start your ELD research here. Shortlist a few popular ELD systems that you like and are available in the FMCSA’s list of self-certified ELDs.
If there’s an ELD solution you like or might have heard of but isn’t on the FMCSA’s list, don’t shortlist it. If it isn’t on the list, it’s not going to make you compliant.
The next point explains it.
2. Only registered ELDs will matter
In a recent address, the FMCSA representatives reminded safety inspectors that only FMCSA-registered ELDs will be counted as compliant electronic logging devices.
Danielle Smith, who is a transportation specialist from the FMCSA’s passenger carrier division, said to law enforcement officers:
“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.”
Although it is true that not every electronic logging device that is listed in the FMCSA’s list will be 100% compliant, any ELD that isn’t there is 100% not compliant.
3. Study the FMCSA’s criteria for compliant ELDs
The FMCSA has very clearly defined the criteria for a certified and compliant electronic logging solution.
Before you buy any ELD system, make sure that you study the criteria and standards set by the FMCSA. Then you should evaluate your shortlisted ELD solution based on those standards and see if the ELD system fulfills the criteria or not.
A 100% compliant ELD solution should provide separate accounts for administrators (non-drivers) and drivers, has “integral synchronization” with the ECM, automatically record information such as date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles, driver identification, etc.
For more information, read this guide by the FMCSA on how to choose a compliant ELD solution.
4. Evaluation of technical aspects
Apart from the basic compliance standards, there are also some technical aspects that you will have to consider.
For instance, ELDs that need to connect with drivers’ mobile devices to display RODS/HOS information to safety inspectors, can use multiple mediums to relay the data. For example:
- Cellular networks
Most ELD systems on the market use cellular networks to transmit the data between engine-connected vehicles and drivers’ mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).
The information must be up-to-date so that inspectors can view and verify it. But if drivers are driving in an area with spotty or no cellular coverage, engine-connected ELDs won’t be able to relay the data to drivers’ mobile devices, rendering them noncompliant.
A Bluetooth or a USB connection is much more reliable. Since it does not rely on cellular networks and coverage to sync data between engine-connected vehicles and drivers’ mobile devices, it never fails.
Even if drivers are operating in areas where there is no cellular coverage, their Hours-of-Service/Record-of-Duty-Status information will still be up-to-date because of the Bluetooth or USB connection.
It is one of those technical aspects that, as a carrier, you must look into.
Based on how much your drivers drive in remote areas, it is important to choose an ELD system that does not depend on unreliable cellular networks.
Unlike many other ELD providers in the market, Motive uses a reliable Bluetooth connection to relay the data between ELDs and mobile devices. Now, Motive has also added USB connectivity for data syncing, making the connection bulletproof. At the moment, it is for Android devices only. USB connectivity for iOS devices is coming very soon.
5. Try ELDs before the deadline
The only surefire way to identify if an ELD is truly compliant or not is by trying it beforehand.
If you wait until the last moment to install ELDs, you would be using them for the first time after the compliance deadline, which is far from ideal.
The carrier, which identified that there was something wrong with their ELD system, was also able to do it because they installed ELDs well ahead of the compliance deadline, which is December 18, 2017.
You won’t get the same opportunities after that date.
After the ELD mandate becomes mandatory, you will have 8 days to replace your electronic logging devices if you find that they are not compliant with the FMCSA’s requirements and standards.
You can request a free ELD demo of the Motive ELD solution and experience how it can help your business.
Call 844-325-9230 if you have any questions or send us an email at email@example.com. Our 24/7 customer support team is always available to help you.