ELD Readiness: 3 Reasons Carriers Should Act Now

Jon Ackerman

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The FMCSA rule requiring truck drivers to automatically record Hours of Service (HOS) and other data with an electronic logging device (ELD) is now final. Attempts to have the rule overturned have failed, including a lawsuit filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. While unpopular with some drivers and carriers due to costs and other impacts, this federal mandate—along with the December 18, 2017 compliance deadline—is here to stay (CCJ).

Regardless of your stand on the issue, the time to act is now. Many carriers are delaying transition, particularly smaller fleets and independent owner-operators—some citing price as a reason they are holding off. However, avoiding the inevitable is sure to cause problems, and soon. Smaller carriers are likely to suffer greater losses in productivity than large, national carriers (many of which have been ELD-compliant for years), and waiting will only compound the problems (JOC.com).

Here are three reasons carriers should act now:

  1. Shippers are already asking about compliance. Most shippers are not yet requiring ELDs, but many have ELD readiness weighted higher in contract bids than in the past because carrier compliance will directly affect their own operations. A carrier’s ELD violations can place trucks out of service, delay customer shipments, and create shared legal liabilities—issues shippers wish to avoid (JOC.com). 
  1. Transition takes time. Selecting and buying the right ELD, installing and testing the devices, updating internal and back-office processes, training drivers and key employees, and then transitioning from paper to electronic logging won’t happen overnight. The purchasing process alone can take weeks. Manufacturers could run short on ELD supply due to the surge in demand. Unanticipated problems will most certainly occur. When you weigh these factors, a year feels like a very short timeframe (JOC.com).
  1. Preparedness has benefits. Carriers expect price increases at first, but leveraging ELD data on shipment locations, drive times, down times, fuel costs, and other insights will help them become more efficient and offset some costs of compliance. The wealth of detailed information generated by electronic tracking should also help improve driver conditions and planning. Some carriers have even reported an uptick in recent business from proving they’ll be compliant by the deadline (JOC.com).

Preparing to Comply

Before selecting a device, carriers should first understand the FMCSA’s requirements, which are quite specific. Generally, the device must do the following (Fleet Owner):

Mount in the truck with the ability to be passed outside the truck

e.g., Portable tablet set in a fixed mount or device attached by a cable

Capture and display required information

e.g., Driver name, carrier name and address, truck location at specific times, total miles per drive period, drive time and engine hours, engine starts and stops, personal conveyance and yard time starts and stops, device malfunctions, and vehicle identification number

Account for all drive time

Includes unassigned segments

Make two automatic changes to duty status

e.g., Prompt driver to change drive/not driving status at certain times or device will change by default

Protect and preserve all drive records

e.g., encrypt data, identify users, show when device is unplugged, reveal when and how the original record is amended, and disallow deletions

Next, carriers should choose an ELD product from FMCSA’s list of self-certified manufacturers. Manufacturers must follow rigorous processes to achieve certification, but making the list won’t guarantee a carrier’s compliance because states have their own HOS rules. Further, because manufacturers self-certify, they can be de-certified later, meaning buyers should avoid basing the choice on price alone. Selecting the best device means thoroughly understanding an ELD’s capabilities, knowing that it meets the carrier’s internal needs, and meeting all state and federal requirements (Fleet Owner).

Communication is Key

Finally, carriers must communicate with customers throughout the process to manage expectations about HOS requirements. The ELD mandate will affect your ability to meet shipping timelines, so it’s critical that all members of the supply chain work together to formulate strategies that comply, smooth the transition, and strengthen the entire supply chain.

For more LoadDelivered insights on managing the transition, check out this blog post:

ELD Mandate: Maximizing Driver Hours

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