The FMCSA's ELD Mandate is Now Mandatory
The FMCSA’s ELD Mandate is Now Mandatory

It’s December 18, 2017. The long-awaited industry change is here, requiring all eligible commercial truckers to start using electronic logging devices. Paper logs are now no longer the norm, leaving only ELDs and compliant AOBRDs to record RODS.

In this post, we recap the important points that you need to know about the ELD mandate, its implementation, some recent changes and temporary exemptions, and what to expect after December 18, 2017.

The ELD Rule

The ELD rule published by the FMCSA requires most commercial truckers to install electronic logging devices. The mandate was published to reduce paperwork, achieve better accuracy, and increase road safety.

ELD Enforcement

Now, as the mandate is fully effective, ELD enforcement needs to be discussed. There are some carriers who are still non-compliant thinking they have time as the CVSA and the FMCSA have apparently “softened” their stances by extending the dates for some penalties for ELD violations.

Earlier this year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) announced that it won’t place non-compliant vehicles out-of-service until April 1, 2018. Following this, the FMCSA also announced that ELD violations after December 18, 2017, won’t affect the CSA scores of carriers until April 1, 2018.

The CVSA’s Executive Director, Collin Mooney, speaking at the Annual Management and Conference Exhibition a few months ago, had clarified that there is not going to be anything like ‘soft enforcement’ on noncompliance.

“On December 18, enforcement begins. We will be writing violations, citations, and warnings. There is no delayed enforcement – we are not using the term soft enforcement at all,” he has warned.

He also explained the reason for delaying the out-of-service criteria enforcement.

This will give us a handle on what this will look like, how big a problem this is. There is a way for us to track this within our current inspection selection process, so hopefully when April 1, 2018 rolls around, a lot of fears will subside that we are not placing the whole industry out-of-service for ELD non-compliance.”

ELD Mandate Exemptions

The ELD mandate applies to most CMV drivers, but there are also some exceptions.

These exemptions could be tricky to understand, so we would like to recall Joe DeLorenzo’s statement in which he simplified the ELD mandate. He said:

“My summary, if you want to think about who needs an ELD, is if you are a driver that has to fill out a logbook, you need an ELD. That’s really what it comes down to.”

As per the FMCSA’s mandate, the ELD mandate does not apply to:

  •   Short-haul drivers who do not have to keep paper logs for more than 8 days in any 30-day period.
  •   Drivers who drive vehicles with pre-2000 engines.
  •   Drivers who carry driveaway-towaway operations.
  •   Truckers who had installed compliant AOBRDs before December 18, 2017.

Under the grandfather clause, vehicles with AOBRDs can continue to operate with them until December 16, 2019. Before that deadline ends, AOBRDs must be replaced with compliant electronic logging devices.

In the last couple of months, the FMCSA has also granted a couple of temporary exemptions to ensure a smooth ELD transition. Here are the major exemptions that the agency has granted:

  1.   Rental Truck Exemption

Truckers driving rental vehicles for 8 or fewer days are exempt from installing ELDs.

Note: As per the latest development, the FMCSA has revisited their decision and decided to grant a limited 90-day ELD exemption to short-term truck rented for up to 30 days. For more details, read this post.

  1.   A 90-Day ELD Waiver for Ag Haulers

Ag haulers have also been given a temporary 90-day ELD waiver. Ag and livestock haulers deal with unique challenges on a daily basis, and ELD adoption would have created a lot of difficulties for them. The FMCSA is expected to change some hours-of-service regulations for ag haulers to make ELD adoption easy for them.

ELDs and Drivers

When the ELD mandate was introduced, most drivers resisted the idea of installing electronic logging devices. However, as time passed by and drivers saw the various benefits, most of them have warmed up to the idea of ELDs.

Discussing his own experience with drivers in his company, Jim Ward, President and CEO at J.M. Bowman said, “There was some initial pushback from drivers, but that subsided when they saw the productivity gained by using e-logs.”

“If there is a way to be able to do something more productively and more efficiently and save some time, they’re going to use it. The hours-of-service hasn’t changed – just the way we’re monitoring it has changed. They started to realize we were using data to be better planners of their day, so long-term they benefited from the use of the data and they saw that as a very nice benefit,” he added.

Roadside Inspections

Now that the ELD mandate has become mandatory, drivers can expect quicker roadside inspections. Safety inspectors won’t have to waste time deciphering paper logs. The data will be transferred electronically, which would significantly improve the entire inspection process.

Load Planning

The ELD mandate enforcement would also impact load planning of fleets. Fleet owners have confessed that the strict enforcement of the hours-of-service rules has propelled them to plan accordingly.

Gypsum Express’ Vice President, Jerry Harris admits that “Too often, my planners were reactors. It [using ELDs] really forces you to plan. If they get up, start their clock, drive into our office and stand there for three hours while we figure out today’s game plan, we just wasted a third of their day. Really be cognizant of the clock running and not running.”

In another case, Lama Quinn, a General Manager from R.E. Garrison Trucking said, “This is not baseball; you don’t get three strikes. ELDs tell you where the ‘bad freight’ is. Planning is huge; we need to select the right freight, and we needed our sales team to educate our customers on proper lengths of haul. This changed our entire culture.”

He also told that the switch to e-logs increased their driver productivity by 17%. Consequently, their weekly revenue per truck also increased by 30%.

The Bottom Line

From this date onwards, there is a lot that you are going to see changed. Most of it would be in the industry’s benefit.

In case you still haven’t installed electronic logging devices, don’t risk your company’s operations. Install ELDs today.

Use our free ELD features comparison and ELD price comparison tools to find the perfect ELD solution for your trucking business.

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