In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed a mandate requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) to be used in all commercial motor vehicles where paper driver logs are currently required.
Since the 1930's the US government has required logs to help ensure that commercial vehicles operators abide by hours-of-service regulations that prevent driver fatigue. However, being that paper records can be difficult to read and verify, the FMCSA passed this new rule to help increase compliance and accountability with these critical safety regulations. They assert the ELD Rule is estimated to save an average of 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles, annually.
In addition to safety, the administration proclaims a number of benefits that this mandate will bring. They estimate more than $1 billion in annual savings, most of which will be through the reduction of required industry paperwork. They also tout the increased ability of roadside law enforcement in reviewing driver records, as well as protections for commercial drivers that will help prevent harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs.
So who exactly do these new rules affect? Perhaps one of the clearest and simplest explanations we've seen is made by Annette Sandberg, CEO of TransSafe Consulting, who breaks down the mandate into one basic principle: "any driver that has to fill out a paper log will have to have an electronic logging device," Sandberg said. "That's basically what the rule says."
So does that mean that no fleets are exempt from the ELD requirements? Not exactly, according to Kirk Rhoades, an ELD specialist at GPS Insight, who provided the following exceptions to Fleet Equipment
“There were three exceptions given,” Rhoades began. “The one that might (affect) most fleets is the short haul drivers, people who use the 100 air-mile or 150 air-mile radius exception. They are going to be exempt from the ELD mandate, unless those drivers exceed the short haul rules more than eight days in a 30-day period. If you have to produce logs on those days and it’s more than eight days in a 30 day period, you will be required to put an ELD in the vehicle. The next vehicle that’s exempt is the tow-away driver, people who transfer empty vehicles and piggy back multiple cars on one truck–they don’t actually own the vehicle, so they can’t be mandated to install them. The installation of an ELD is not required on any vehicle that’s older than the year 2000. If you have older vehicles, you are not required to put an ELD in that truck.
It's also important to note that any vehicles already using devices compatible with older automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) standards have until December 2019 to have ELD-compliant devices in trucks.
What qualifies as an ELD? The FMCSA defines an ELD as a device that automatically records driving time and other aspects of the hours-of-service (HOS) records. To qualify, ELDs must be integrally synchronized with the engine of the commercial motor vehicle and meet certain technical specifications. Smart phones and tablets many be used as long as they are part of a qualifying system. For more information on technical requirements, see the official ELD Final Rule document.
One major element of the new rule sets technology specifications for approved ELDs so that manufacturers and purchasers know what is required. The FMCSA has a self-certification process in place for vendors to indicate that their ELD products are compliant. As of this publication date, only five companies have registered devices, but none are major players in the current generation of Automatic On-board Recording Devices, or AOBRDs, which are the current option to paper logs and a precursor to the mandated ELDs.
Although a logical progression of earlier laws dating back to the 1930s, this mandate presents a disruptive change for the transportation industry. While many fleet owners are naturally uneasy about the requirement to adopt this new technology, it is clear that this new rule is most likely not going overturned. This is why we feel it is imperative for all players in the Commercial Vehicle Industry to examine the requirements of the rule, understand what technology is required and start considering how their organization should respond.
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