New Mandates for Electronic Logging Devices in 2017
Electronic Logging Devices, also referred to as electronic logbooks or ELD systems, will largely dominate the discussion of trucking fleets in 2017. Since the FMCSA mandated that all trucking carriers begin using ELD systems as of December 2017, trucking carriers and owner operators have been scrambling to get up to speed on the technology and choose the best time to adopt this mandatory expense.
We hope this page will be a valuable resource for trucking companies exploring options for ELD systems in 2017.
Facts About ELD Systems
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that every US truck driver or carrier who must currently keep a paper log will have to use a compliant electronic logbook device beginning December 18, 2017.
If a truck driver or carrier purchases a compliant AOBRD system – which was approved prior to the most recent ELD system – before December 18, 2017, the truck driver or carrier may use the AOBRD system until December 16, 2019.
Any ELD system that a trucking carrier or driver chooses must be on the FMCSA’s approved manufacturer list as of December 18, 2017.
ELD systems must have a mechanism by which enforcement officers can verify logs during a traffic stop. There are several options by which this may take place.
As of November 30, 2016, not all of the details of the FMCSA ruling have been finalized for ELD manufacturers. Details yet to be finalized include how data is to be store and presented to enforcement officers, as well as the location of certain API calls.
Once ELDs are implemented, carriers will be held accountable for harassment when carriers compel drivers to violate hours of service regulations knowingly.
Opinion: Though there are efforts there, it is unlikely that the court system will stop the implementation of the ELD mandate. Federal courts have already weighed in on the matter and determined that the regulation is legal and will be binding. Though owner-operator groups continue to fight, all indications are that this regulation is going to happen.
Clem Driscoll, noted researcher for the trucking and IOT industry, reports that there are approximately 1 million trucks in the United States that will require an ELD system in 2017.
Opinion: Equipping 1 million trucks with ELD systems in 2017 is quite a task. Supply should be acceptable for carriers and truckers who choose to make purchases in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the year. Carriers and truckers that choose to wait to implement a compliant electronic logbook system until near the deadline might find supply to be a concern.
Fact: A number of startups have launched as ELD manufacturers in hopes of capturing market share. Many more will launch in the near future. Many of these will fail leaving trucking companies and carriers in a very difficult position.
How can a carrier or trucker ensure the ELD manufacturer chosen will be around to support the application long after the purchase?
Use the Internet to validate any ELD manufacturer you might choose. A quick search for reviews of the company or a quick search on the company should produce hundreds of web listings back to the company’s website if the company has been in business for several years.
3rd party affiliations and accreditations. Is the company a member of the Better Business Bureau in good standing? Is the company a member of the American Trucking Association or other well-known trucking organizations? Can you find any validation on the web to help you ensure the company has been in business for many years?
Service Matters: Since ELD systems in compliance with the new mandate are new for everyone, you are going to need some support for implementation and training. So, try this before buying. Call the prospective ELD manufacturer or service provider and ask for support. Use this as a time to understand how quickly the phone is answered and how quickly you can find someone who can help you with your problem. When you find out how responsive the team is, wish the customer service representative a great day and make an informed decision on your future ELD provider.
The FMCSA electronic logbook regulations do not require typical fleet tracking as a feature of the system. In fact, under the basic ELD regulations, the FMCSA requires a certain level of ambiguity as to the exact location of a truck when reporting changes to a driver’s status. So, fleet tracking is, therefore, an option for the carrier who owns trucks and for a carrier providing the ELD system for a driver. So, the question carriers will have to ask is whether an incremental cost to add fleet tracking is worth it to their business. Considerations of logistic improvements, dispatching, theft recovery, route optimization and planning, fuel usage, and IFTA reporting are all features that can make the incremental cost of a fleet tracking system worth the extra cost. And, in some cases, the required hardware to facilitate fleet tracking is already installed with the electronic logbook hardware.
Final Notes Concerning 2017 and ELD Systems
It is unlikely that every carrier and trucker will be compliant with the new ruling on December 18, 2017. Many truckers will risk the fines or other penalties in either protest or simply in hopes of saving some money. And, there will likely be lawsuits following the implementation. So, one question to ask is whether compliance with the regulation is of less cost and hassle than ignoring or fighting the system.