The trucking industry has experienced countless regulatory changes in the past. Some of the changes have made drivers’ lives easier, while others only added to their stress and discomfort.
This December 18, 2017, a new regulation is set to be implemented — the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate.
This marks the second phase of the ELD rule that was published in 2015, also known as the “phase-in compliance” stage.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the “full compliance” phase — set to come after December 16, 2019 — will eventually require all drivers and carriers (who are not exempt from the ELD rule) to use certified and FMCSA-registered ELDs.
The good news for commercial drivers and carriers is that the new ELD rule doesn’t burden anyone. Instead, it makes it easier for drivers to follow several federal regulations.
In this article, we list some of the many ways that drivers can benefit from installing ELDs in their vehicles.
ELDs make it easier for drivers to track their driving hours and stay within their hours-of-service limits.
Because ELDs are connected to a vehicle’s ECM, they can monitor the vehicle’s movements automatically. Instead of drivers writing their Record of Duty Status (RODS) manually, ELDs can record all that information on its own. According to an FMCSA estimate, this simple process of automating maintaining RODS would save drivers 20 hours every year.
That way, drivers won’t be distracted with administrative tasks while on the road and, therefore, can focus on doing what they love the most — driving.
Also, drivers won’t have to keep track of their remaining driving hours manually. ELDs notify drivers for any upcoming violations, allowing them to stop driving before they go beyond their hours-of-service limits.
Because a Form & Manner violation would only translate to a 1-point violation to a carrier’s CSA score, some would simply dismiss it as a minor issue. However, if these violations are left unchecked, these penalties can easily pile up and cause problems for truckers.
Here are a few common reasons for Form & Manner violations:
It’s worth emphasizing that the list isn’t a complete one. There are several points that can still be added to the list.
The good news, however, is despite the high probability of drivers getting slapped with Form & Manner violations due to the sheer number of triggers, drivers can easily avoid several of these through ELDs.
Such is the case because ELDs will digitize the driver’s Records of Duty Status (RODS). It means that the DOT officers won’t have a hard time understanding the driver’s paper logs, and the reports they’ll get will likely be complete.
Moreover, ELDs are programmed to fill in the logs completely, which eliminates the possibility of manual oversight that is quite common.
A common scenario of driver harassment and coercion is when carriers force drivers to complete an urgent dispatch, even at the expense of drivers exceeding their HOS limits. Since it is an “off-the-books” operation, drivers are also left if they get caught by safety inspectors.
All in all, driver harassment and coercion put the welfare and safety of drivers at risk.
The problem has become quite alarming. Therefore, one of the key goals of the ELD rule is to deter the harassment of drivers.
Here’s a statement from the FMCSA’s website about the ELD rule’s key requirements.
“Prohibits harassment of drivers based on ELD data or connected technology (such as fleet management system). The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.“
As electronic logging devices are tamper-resistant, drivers can rest assured that nobody can alter their records to make them guilty. It also prevents fleet managers from coercing drivers into driving beyond their HOS limits because fleet managers won’t be able to tamper the ELD records later.
Furthermore, drivers have the final authority to accept or reject any edit suggestions — which puts drivers in command.
Last, but not the least, the ELD mandate encourages drivers to file coercion and harassment complaints. The FMCSA asks that coercion complaints must be filed within 90 days of the incident.
Nowadays, ELDs are much more than just tools for compliance.
As they are connected to the engine of the vehicle, ELDs are capable of getting fault-code reports and notifying drivers and fleet managers about any potential issue.
As a result, drivers can avoid several vehicle-related violations that they couldn’t have otherwise.
Have you transitioned to ELDs?
Some truck drivers are holding off on their transition mainly because they think ELDs are expensive, but that’s not true.
While there are ELD providers that are offering their devices for thousands of dollars, there are also those that would charge only a couple of hundreds, all while providing impeccable services.
Closely examine the ELDs offered by each manufacturer. Look into their features, reviews, and the reputation they carry in the trucking industry and then make an informed decision.