In December 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will implement the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

Ready for digital log keeping? The trucking industry is preparing for a major change in new technology this year. On December 18, 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will implement the electronic logging device (ELD) Mandate. This Mandate is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, while providing more efficient tracking and managing of records of duty status (RODS) data.

This Mandate will help protect drivers from overuse by carriers and replace traditional, time-consuming driver paper logs. This ruling will impact the entire freight and shipping industry, from drivers and carriers to truck maintainers and law enforcement personnel.

Are you ready for ELDs? Let’s review some of the most common questions about the ELD Mandate to ensure your truck fleets and drivers are prepared for this new technology.

What is an ELD, and what is the ELD Mandate?

An ELD is an electronic solution that allows truck drivers and carriers to efficiently record and track hours of service (HOS). An ELD synchronizes to a truck’s engine to track truck motion, and a driver can select current driving status. A connected display visually shows a graphic representation of hours driven in a day. Data must be able to be transferred to law enforcement if required, and the ELD must be registered on the FMCSA website.

The ELD Mandate by FMCSA was released in December 2015 to help optimize driver performance and record management of HOS. The mandate also offers a four-year phased implementation approach for trucks with existing automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). ELDs are meant to fulfill previous law by eventually replacing AOBRDs for more accurate, efficient transmission of driver data, along with other driver and carrier benefits.

Who does the ELD Mandate impact?

The ELD Mandate applies to all drivers who are currently required to keep paper records of duty status (RODS). Drivers who must keep RODS in eight or more days out of every 30 days are required to use an ELD. The FMCSA anticipates this mandate to impact 3.4 million drivers.

While this mandate will affect millions of commercial drivers, the following situations will be exempt from the ELD Mandate:

  • Short-haul drivers: Drivers who use the 100 air-mile radius exception or 150 air-mile radius exception

  • Driveaway-towaway operations: If the commercial truck is being handled as part of a shipment (the truck is the product being shipped)

  • Pre-2000 vehicles: Vehicle models dated 1999 or prior based on the vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • AOBRD-installed vehicles: FMCSA allows fleets with installed AOBRDs (at the time the final rule is enacted) to continue to use those devices until late 2019.

What are the Costs and Benefits of the ELD Mandate?

Per, “The FMCSA believes the total annual cost of ELD adoption will be $975 million, which includes all equipment for carriers and commercial truck inspectors, as well as inspector and driver training. Electronic logging devices ranged from an annualized price of $165 to $832.

All in, the net benefits of ELDs outweigh the costs with expected paperwork savings of over $1.6 billion annually, plus crash reduction costs of $395 million.” Benefits include reduced paperwork and reporting for drivers, decreased fuel costs, reduced truck time, lowered total crash rates (by more closely monitoring daily driver hours), and simplified regulatory compliance and expedited inspections.

Beyond tracking HOS more accurately and meeting compliance regulations, ELDs will help drivers and carriers in additional ways.

  • Many ELDs offer additional features such as navigation support and map routing (and for driver-carrier connected ELDs, dispatchers can help off-route trucks or suggest better routes to avoid traffic delays).

  • Fault monitoring can help reduce maintenance and repair costs. Inspection reporting can easily be done digitally on an ELD, and driving reports can help drivers improve driving behaviors and understand truck accidents better.

  • ELDs may also include analytics to review driver and truck performance to use fleets most efficiently.

  • An engine-connected ELD can also be paired with a smartphone or handheld device (rather than a digital display) to help reduce costs—and improve driver practicality.

What Happens if You Don’t Comply?

How will law enforcement govern compliance? Drivers and carriers will face penalties in the same category as other non-compliant traffic offenses. Law enforcement will need to determine level of intent in not complying, but also level of  non-compliance severity (such as disabling an ELD versus not enforcing drivers to file a RODS, for example).

Per the FMCSA, the initial calculated fine per acute violation is $8,672. Acute violations will also require immediate corrective action, and will be considered a severe civil violation. In addition, carriers who force drivers to work more than the required 70 hours of service per week can face a civil penalty and fines as much as $16,000. The ELD Mandate gives drivers a procedure for filing a harassment complaint if a carrier forces them to drive while fatigued or ill.

How Should You Prepare for the ELD Mandate?

While the ELD mandate deadline is December 18, 2017, the trucking industry is encouraged to begin choosing and installing their ELDs now. Review suggested steps for a successful transition to using ELDs. Evaluating ELD vendors is the first step, but ensure vendors being considered are offering options that meet federal requirements, including some of the following:

  • record engine data
  • record vehicle location
  • display a record-of-duty status log
  • gauge and display any malfunctions
  • power-on within 1 minute of vehicle ignition
  • transfer data via electronic methods
  • allow drivers to make modifications

ELD vendors must also register devices and self-certify that their ELDs meet the FMCSA’s technical requirements. Visit the FMCSA website to find a helpful checklist for choosing an electronic logging device. An important note—ELDs may be part of a Fleet Management System (FMS) or include FMS functions, but there is no requirement for ELDs to meet Fleet Management functionality.

When choosing an ELD vendor (find an ELD vendor list!), consider what device best fits your existing operations, and which device would best suit your drivers’ needs. Also, have a clear understanding of the costs per device from your vendor, as after hardware installation, many vendors will charge a monthly fee per ELD in use. Most in the trucking industry recommend beginning your ELD selection at least six months in advance of the mandate deadline.

At Wheelco, we will be stocking our select ELD vendor VDO RoadLog’s hardware and our sales representatives are happy to answer any ELD mandate questions you have. We will have on hand the RoadLog Electronic Logging Device, along with Management Software and Fleet Key for the device.

Interested in getting parts or services to meet ELD requirements? Call us, stop into one of our multiple locations, or send us a note online. And check out our latest parts specials—or ask us for access to our online ordering option to browse our parts inventory.

More ELD Questions?

With the laws about the ELD mandate ever-changing, we recommend contacting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for the most up-to-date information. | FMCSA