Recapping the ELD Rule Before December 18, 2017
Recapping the ELD Rule Before December 18, 2017

Last week, Congress voted down the amendment to delay the ELD mandate. The amendment that was introduced by Mr. Brian Babin in July 2017 would have restricted DOT’s funding for enforcing the ELD rule until the end of the fiscal year — September 30, 2018.

In other words, it would have delayed the ELD mandate for at least a year. However, Congress voted it down; the lawmakers voted 246-173 against any deferral of the ELD mandate.

This was perhaps one of the last nails in the coffin, and it pretty much confirms that the ELD mandate is not going to get delayed.

If you recall, OOIDA — which was also in favor of this amendment — had made several attempts in the past to delay the FMCSA’s ELD mandate. OOIDA appealed to the Seventh Circuit of Courts where it got rejected, filed a rehearing petition which the Court rejected again, tried its luck in the Supreme Court which also ruled in favor of the ELD mandate.

Then the amendment bill was presented in the Congress which also decided in favor of the final ELD rule.

All these signals point out to one simple fact: lawmakers are not willing to make any changes to the ELD rule — especially with the implementation deadline just a few months away. They are not willing to change anything, and the ELD mandate is all set to take effect from December 18, 2017.

We believe this is the perfect moment to briefly recap the entire ELD mandate and all the provisions trucking companies and drivers need to know about the ELD rule before it takes effect.

If you still haven’t installed ELDs, you are already late. Make no mistake. But there’s still some time if you hustle.

We hope the following guide will help clarify any confusions that you may have regarding the ELD rule and help you get prepared right away.

Ready? Let’s begin.

What is the ELD Rule?

Let’s start from the scratch.

What is the ELD rule?

The ELD rule, or the electronic logging device mandate, is an initiative by the FMCSA that requires most commercial motor vehicles to install electronic logging devices by December 18, 2017.

What are electronic logging devices?

Electronic logging devices or ELDs are hardware devices that directly connect to the engine of the vehicles. ELDs then automatically records drivers’ record of duty status (RODS) and hours of service information.

ELDs are supposed to be tamper-resistant, which means drivers won’t be able to compromise road safety by driving beyond their hours of service limits.

You see, the upcoming ELD mandate does not change much. Contrary to common belief, it does not introduce any new Hours of Service rules or regulations. Things are pretty much the same. However, the only difference is that drivers would be now logging their Hours of Service information electronically (with ELDs) instead of using paper logs.

The biggest reasons for introducing the ELD mandate are:

  1.   Driver fatigue
  2.   Violation of HOS regulations

There is no doubt that driver fatigue is the biggest reason for crashes and road accidents. It not only leads to penalties and fines, but it also results in the loss of valuable lives in road crashes.

To combat driver fatigue, the FMCSA introduced Hours of Service regulations — which limit how much a driver can drive every day. However, the problem is that some commercial drivers would falsify their logs and drive more than they are supposed to. As there is no 100% accurate method to audit paper logs, the problem of driver fatigue could not be resolved completely.

Electronic logging devices change everything.

They are tamper-resistant and record all information automatically. This is why the ELD mandate is such a crucial step towards improving road safety and minimizing accidents. The FMCSA estimates that the ELD mandate would save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries every year — which would be a significant step forward.

Do I Need Comply With the ELD Mandate?

So the ELD mandate is pretty cool as it promotes safety, but do you need to comply with the ELD rule and install these e-logging devices?

This is the most important question because not everyone requires ELDs. The ELD mandate although applies to most CMVs, it does not apply to everyone, and there are some exceptions.

The ELD rule does not apply to:

  •   Driveaway towaway drivers.
  •   Vehicles with pre-2000 engines.
  •   Drivers who qualify for the short-haul exception and are not required to maintain RODS.
  •   Short-haul drivers who maintain RODS for no more than 8 days in a 30-day period.

If you belong to any of the above-mentioned four categories, you are technically exempt from the ELD rule.

However, there is a catch.

Many short-haul fleets are now installing ELDs because their exemption is the trickiest one.

As you know, short-haul drivers sometimes drive more than their assigned limit and, therefore, are required to maintain RODS. If they do it for more than 8 days in a 30-day period, they’d need ELDs.

The problem is that you can’t decide it on the 7th day that you need ELDs.

For more information on this topic, read: Why are so many short-haul fleets installing ELDs?

The ELD Mandate Timeline

Make no mistake. The ELD mandate timeline is still the same.

The implementation deadline is still December 18, 2017.

Although there were attempts to delay the ELD mandate — and some rumors also circulated that the ELD mandate has been delayed — the mandate is all set to take effect from December 18, 2017.

However, when we are talking about the implementation date, we need to highlight two important points to portray the full picture.

  1.   For most eligible CMVs, the ELD rule implementation date is December 18, 2017. However, for vehicles equipped with compliant AOBRDs, the implementation deadline is December 16, 2019. In other words, the FMCSA gives a two-year extension for truckers with AOBRDs. However, it is important to note that you won’t be able to install AOBRDs in new trucks after December 18, 2017.
  2.   The second point is that although the implementation date is still December 18, 2017, the CVSA will enforce out-of-service criteria from April 01, 2018.

Let’s discuss the last point in a bit more detail.

To make things easier for truckers, the CVSA has decided a phased-in approach. According to this new approach, safety inspectors will not place vehicles without ELDs out of service. They will, however, cite and fine vehicles without ELDs based on their discretion. Moreover, companies that continuously violate the ELD rule could be subject to a federal investigation.

To summarize:

  •   The ELD mandate deadline is still December 18, 2017 — not April 01, 2018.
  •   After December 18, 2017, if a truck does not have ELD, safety inspectors will cite and fine it, but they will not place the vehicle out of service.
  •   After April 01, 2018, safety inspectors will resume enforcing the out-of-service criteria.

On a side note, the Director of CVSA has strongly hinted that the special focus of CVSA International Roadcheck 2018 may be “ELDs”.

Regarding its possibility, he said, “Hours of Service enforcement has always been a key component of Roadcheck, and as we will be 6 months in with this new rule, it will be something to look at.”

4 Factors to Consider Before Choosing an ELD Provider

Now that you are all caught up with the ELD rule and its various provisions, it’s time to talk about ELD mandate implementation.

As mentioned earlier, there is not a lot of time left before the mandate takes effect. If you still haven’t installed ELDs, you are already late. Therefore, without wasting any more time, you should focus all your energy on finding a reliable ELD provider and equip your vehicles with electronic logging devices.

However, before you do that, there are 5 important factors that you’ll have to consider. We have listed these factors here with brief descriptions to help you:

1. ELD Features

Although electronic logging devices are primarily meant for complying with the ELD mandate and e-logging hours of service information, they are much more than that. The right ELD solution can help your fleet reduce administrative burden, gain valuable insights into your fleet’s operations, minimize expenses, and maximize profits.

In order to achieve all that, you will need a feature-rich ELD solution. Use our free ELD features comparison chart to find a reliable and powerful ELD system, which must at least have the following abilities:

  •   Driver scorecards: Driver scorecards help you identify drivers with dangerous driving behaviors, so you can help them rectify their mistakes and improve the safety of your fleet.
  •   Messaging: See if the ELD system has a streamlined communication or messaging channel that fleet managers and drivers on the road can use to stay in touch.
  •   IFTA calculation: ELDs can automatically record the distance each vehicle travels in different jurisdictions, which simplifies the IFTA calculation process. An extremely important feature that would save you dozens of hours every quarter.
  •   Idle-time tracking: ELDs can also help you identify drivers who idle for too long or too frequently, so you can save thousands of dollars worth of fuel by putting a stop to vehicle idling.
  •   Geofencing: Geofencing allows you to set virtual parameters and receive real-time alerts whenever a vehicle enters or exits it. A great feature to simplify fleet management and avoid several violations.

2. Connectivity

How does the engine-connected ELD connect with the driver’s mobile device and sync HOS and RODS information?

There are three common ways:

  •   Cellular networks
  •   Bluetooth
  •   USB

Although many ELDs depend on cellular networks, the FMCSA has confirmed that it is a compliance risk. Data won’t be synced between the two devices if drivers are operating in an area with spotty or no cellular coverage, making them noncompliant.

Make sure that your chosen ELD system uses a more reliable Bluetooth or USB connection.

3. Cost of ELDs

Considering the cost of ELDs is obviously important — especially if you have hundreds of CMVs in your fleet.

There are some ELD providers that charge thousands of dollars per ELDs, while others charge as low as $20 per month. Some ELD providers also charge additional hardware and installation charges on top of monthly fees — beware of that.

Use our free ELD price comparison chart to find out the exact cost you will have to pay when dealing with different ELD vendors.

4. Certification

Make sure to confirm if your shortlisted ELD solution is certified by the FMCSA or not.

The FMCSA has recently reminded roadside inspectors that an ELD that isn’t on the FMCSA’s list of certified ELDs is not a compliant ELD.

Therefore, it’s the #1 factor that you should consider before buying an ELD.

Parting Advice

One of the last attempts to delay the ELD mandate has been shot down. Now it is perfectly clear that the ELD mandate is going to be implemented from December 18, 2017.

There is no benefit of delaying the ELD implementation any further. Start the process now.

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