The ELD mandate is less than nine months away. It is set to come into effect from December 18, 2017, and carriers are most interested in how they can easily transition and become compliant before the ELD mandate deadline hits.

Joe DeLorenzo, the FMCSA director, during his address at Omnitracs Outlook 2017, had a few suggestions, advice, and requests for fleets and trucking companies.

Speaking of the December ELD implementation deadline, Joe DeLorenzo said: “I want to make sure we are all kind of level-set on where the ELD rule is and what some of the requirements are. But I really want to focus on what has to happen over the next few months. There is a lot that has to happen between now and then.”

DeLorenzo shared several important points that he thinks “has to happen” between now and then. We have divided those points into different sections for you.

The importance of planning ahead

DeLorenzo’s main focus was to ensure that the transition to ELDs goes smoothly, and the only way to achieve that is by planning ahead and not falling into the human tendency of procrastination.

One of the main concerns shared by Joe was that fleets might procrastinate and not plan ahead. This can cause all sorts of troubles. Sharing this concern, Joe said:

“The biggest mistake, and this is not just an ELD rule issue; it’s kind of ‘any rule’ issue, our natural human tendency is to wait. It’s coming. We will see as we get closer down the road. Pre-planning and thinking about your operation in the context of ELDs is really what the most important thing is.”

And when it comes to ELD mandate, planning ahead is all the more important. It gives fleets enough time to understand their operations in the context of ELDs, identify their ELD requirements, educate and train their drivers for ELDs, and avoid violations and disgruntled staff.

Not planning ahead can easily get fleets into hot water.

Simplifying the ELD mandate

The ELD mandate applies to most CMV drivers. However, there are some exceptions regarding who needs ELDs and who doesn’t.

Joe simplified the ELD mandate for fleets: “My summary, if you want to think about who needs an ELD, is if you are a driver that has to fill out a logbook, you need an ELD. That’s really what it comes down to.”

Additionally, DeLorenzo said that fleets could use ELDs even if it’s not mandatory for them.

Joe’s biggest concern is the 8-day exception

“You need an ELD if you are a driver that has to fill out a logbook.” That’s a great way to put it.

But what about drivers who will be using the 8-day exception? According to Joe, that’s his biggest area of concern.

In his own words, “The one [area] that I’m most concerned about is the 8-day rule. Because the 8-day rule is the one where you can’t be figuring this out on the seventh day in any 30-day period and finding out that this is going to be a problem.”

He further explained why the 8-day exception rule could be so problematic for fleets in the context of ELD implementation:

“That’s what happens a lot: ‘my driver went down sick for a couple of days, and now, suddenly, I’m going to be losing this exception, and that [other] driver is going to need an ELD’. Then you have to got to go back, and you have got to enter all that information into the ELD so the driver can use it, and then it’s just a lot more work for everyone.”

Joe said the 8-day exception problem could be solved by planning ahead.

“I don’t think I can stress that enough, thinking ahead and figuring out what you as a carrier are really going to need in terms of those exceptions is going to be really important.”

Roadside inspections

Lastly, roadside inspections was another topic that Joe DeLorenzo discussed in detail during his address.

According to Joe, “Roadside inspections are very difficult situations for everybody. The more that a driver knows and can articulate, the easier it is for the law enforcement officer.”

One of the core focuses of Joe’s address was to have your drivers well-informed about what kind of logs they are keeping, as it simplifies road inspections and makes lives easier for drivers, fleet managers, and law enforcement officers.

He explained: “What exactly are officers looking for when they stop me on the roadside, and they stop my driver? What it comes down to is they are looking for compliance with the Hours of Service. Whatever method of [driver log] tracking you are using, our goal, and the goal of our state law enforcement partners, is to make sure that you are in compliance with the Hours of Service. That’s all everybody really wants.”

The important point to note here is that when transitioning to ELDs, some fleets may be using more than one type of driver logs. It can be especially true if fleets are maintaining paper logs while testing out e-logs and ELDs. Another case when that would be true is when fleets have transitioned to electronic logs but are keeping paper logs as a backup.

In such scenarios, it would be extremely important for drivers to know which log method is the official one because that’s the log law enforcements officers will rely on when judging drivers for Hours of Service compliance.

Summarizing Joe DeLorenzo’s address

Joe DeLorenzo mentioned a lot of important points during his address. Here is a summary of what he said:

  • According to the FMCSA director, the most important thing during this period of transition is to plan ahead and think about your fleet’s operations in the context of ELDs.
  • He simplified the ELD mandate by saying “If you are a driver who fills out a logbook, you need an ELD”.
  • Joe’s biggest concern is about the 8-day exception rule. It’s an issue because it might take only one driver being unavailable or only one extra run to get fleets into trouble. Joe suggests to carefully look into your operations and drivers using 8-day exceptions, and then decide whether you need ELDs or not.
  • Training drivers is going to be a critical part during this transitioning period.
  • Regarding roadside inspections, Joe said that well-informed drivers would help simplify these inspections. Also, it’d be important for drivers to know which is the official logging method (paper log or e-logs) if they are using both these methods simultaneously.

What’s next?

When the FMCSA’s director says something, we all must listen.

Planning ahead will make transitioning to ELDs a lot simpler. You will have enough time to think about your operations in the context of ELDs, train your drivers, get them accustomed to the new method of electronic logging, and sort out the 8-day exception problem.

If you have any questions, contact our support team for all the help you need. You can also request a free demo of Motive ELD solution to get started. One of our product specialists will get in touch with you with all the necessary information.