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ELD Update: Challenges and Benefits

The federal ELD mandate, which went into effect in December 2017, means that truck drivers must now use an electronic logging device (ELD) instead of traditional paper logs to record hours of service (HOS) and records of duty status (RODS). Under the new rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, ELDs are required for commercial motor vehicles that meet one of the following criteria:
  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Transports 8 or more passengers for compensation
  • Transports 15+ passengers for free
  • Transports hazardous material as defined by the Secretary of Transportation
Many larger carriers had already installed ELDs in their trucks, but for many smaller fleets or independent contractors who were accustomed to paper logs, the mandate has presented added costs and other challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the developments that have arisen in the months since the ELD law took effect.

ELD Mandate Exemptions

The ELD mandate does include a few exemptions:
  • Short haul drivers
  • Drivers who use paper RODS for 8 days or fewer in a 30-day period
  • Drivers of tow-away operations
  • Vehicles manufactured before 2000
In addition, two bipartisan bills have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that, if passed, would add more exemptions. Co-sponsored by Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Greg Gianforte (R-MT), the bills propose the following changes:
  • The Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act would allow carriers with 10 or fewer drivers to continue using paper logs instead of ELDS.
  • A second bill introduced by Peterson and Gianforte would exempt drivers hauling livestock and agricultural commodities.

ELD Compliance

Industry compliance was over 90% by April 1, with 35,000 citations issued between January and May, mostly for failure to have a registered ELD. Common ELD violations have been reported as follows:
  • Lack of registered ELD
  • Form and manner violations, such as failure to record trailer number
  • No record of duty status
  • False report of duty status
  • Driving beyond the 14th hour
  • Failing to preserve the last 7 days of logs
Law enforcement officers have encountered challenges in grappling with the new mandate, including general confusion and lack of training. This has led to uneven enforcement, with some officers showing leniency toward drivers, as they themselves continue to learn more about the new rules.

ELD Challenges for Drivers

Many drivers feel that ELD requirements curtail their independence to decide when to drive and when to take a break. Critics argue that the ELD mandate has lowered driver productivity as well as earnings. Some drivers report having a harder time finding a legal place to park and sleep when they reach their maximum HOS for the day. In addition, many drivers remain unsure of the difference between automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) and ELDs. AOBRDs, which are an older electronic logging technology, may still be used until December 2019 if they were installed prior to the mandate. However, new AOBRDs may not be used. In response to these problems, a number of trucking companies have increased their focus on training to help drivers adapt to the new rules while maintaining productivity and income.

ELD Challenges for Carriers

Besides the need for driver training, carriers face a number of new responsibilities pertaining to the ELD regulations.
  • Carriers must perform due diligence when selecting an ELD system. More than 360 registered devices from more than 200 vendors are available.
  • The ELD selected must be compatible with back office systems. Even when this is the case, the process of actually integrating old and new systems requires a high level of technical expertise.
  • Greater cooperation is needed between shippers and carriers to minimize driver and equipment delays, which are more costly under the new mandate.
There are a number of additional things carriers should pay attention to in order to minimize the negative impacts of the ELD rule.
  • Unassigned driver time. If a driver forgets to log in before driving, the accuracy of the data will be compromised.
  • Inaccuracies occur when the driver unplugs the ELD to use the truck for personal transportation. Carriers can address this problem by updating their personal conveyance policy to account for the new rules.
  • Maintaining up-to-date violation reports for the FMCSA.
  • Maintaining supporting documents.
  • Deciding whether to challenge a roadside violation if an enforcement error is suspected.
  • Learning how to retrieve data and compile reports in the case of audits.

Potential Benefits of Electronic Logs

While drivers and carriers have encountered a number of challenges in implementing the ELD mandate, some positive outcomes have been reported.
  • After the mandate took effect in December 2017, some sources note that average HOS have actually increased.
  • Drivers who manage HOS effectively could potentially earn extra revenue, according to some estimates.
  • HOS violations have declined in the months following the mandate.
  • Although HOS rules remain unchanged, enforcement is now more accurate, which may level the playing field by eliminating non-compliant capacity.
  • Effective implementation may help drivers manage their time more efficiently.
  • Required supporting documentation can be stored digitally, which may facilitate smoother reporting and responding to law enforcement requests.
Other potential benefits of using ELD technology may include faster inspections and increased safety with fewer drivers exceeding HOS limits. ELD devices may also provide more accurate data in the event of an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle. Do you have questions about the ELD mandate? Contact Pedigree Truck Sales or call us at 888-493-1194. We have a wide selection of fleet maintained semi trucks, equipped with advanced technology to help you comply with all regulations while maximizing your earnings and productivity.