FMCSA's Joe DeLorenzo clarifies ELD Mandate Concerns and Confusion Regarding ELD Data Transfer
The FMCSA Clarifies Confusions Regarding ELD Data Transfer

The FMCSA’s director of enforcement and compliance, Joe DeLorenzo, recently shared clarifications on some of the ELD mandate guidelines during a trucking conference.

The event was held in Nashville, Tennessee.

Some of the points he covered was about how the drivers are meant to transfer their RODS (Records of Duty Status) data to safety inspectors, and what they ought to do when the data transfer methods aren’t working.

Joe also included reminders and clarifications on important points that fall under the ELD mandate.

These clarifications addressed topics that members of the trucking industry often had questions about, e.g., the ELD rule exemptions, yard moves, and guidelines about using AOBRDs.

Let’s start from the top.

Guidelines on Data Transfer

Joe mentioned that drivers could employ one of two available data transfer methods whenever asked for a copy of their electronic RODS during roadside inspections.

Drivers can use either the USB/Bluetooth option or the email and web service option.

USB/Bluetooth option

Those who are using ELDs that can be connected to USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices could opt for the USB option. The driver will be given a USB-compatible device (e.g. mobile phone USB connection, flash drive, etc.) by the roadside inspector for data retrieval.

The driver is then expected to plug this device into his ELD, transfer his electronic RODS to the device, and return the device to the authorized inspector.

Alternatively, drivers who are using ELDs that have Bluetooth can connect their ELDs with a Bluetooth connection to the roadside inspectors’ devices for data transfer.

Email and web service option

Drivers who don’t have USB and Bluetooth capabilities available in their ELDs have the option to directly email their RODS straight to the email accounts of safety inspectors.

Joe DeLorenzo believes that the most common method of data transfer that drivers are predicted to employ will be the web service option. This option involves ELDs sending RODS data to a secure FMCSA-hosted web service that law enforcers can only access by using a unique key code.

Safety inspectors who want to review the driver’s RODS data must use their unique key code to log into the FMCSA-hosted server to gain access to their RODS.

However, some members of the trucking industry worry that their ELDs might cease to be compliant should there be instances where the available methods of data transfer aren’t working.

Joe DeLorenzo addressed this concern by emphasizing the importance of ELDs having a graphical display of the RODS data that can be seen from a reasonable distance.

According to the director, drivers can still be compliant if they show their RODS to safety inspectors by means of either a view-screen or a paper printout from their Electronic Logging Device.

He believes that the graphical display would play an important role when implementing the ELD mandate, as the FMCSA’s data transfer system is still in its testing phase and might not be ready before this December.

Further Details and Clarifications

The exemptions of the ELD mandate, yard moves, and the regulations involving the AOBRD option are some of the other most commonly asked questions in the industry. Joe DeLorenzo shared some clarifications about these topics as well.

Here are the crucial points that the director shared:

ELD Rule Exemptions

Drivers are exempt from the ELD mandate if they fall under one of these categories:

  1. Drivers who qualify for the short-haul exemption.
  2. Vehicles with pre-2000 engines
  3. Short-haul drivers who exceed their driving limit and maintain RODS for no more than 8 days in a 30-day period.
  4. Drivers that perform “drive-away, tow-away” operations.

In connection with these exemptions to the ELD mandate, director Joe DeLorenzo emphasized three crucial clarifications about the exemptions of the eight-day paper-RODS.

  1. The exemption works on a per-driver basis. It means that several drivers from the same fleet can still be exempt even if others have to use ELDs.
  2. The 30-day period must be viewed as a “continuous clock” instead of being viewed as a fixed one-month period.
  3. The 8 days exemption does not have to be continuous as it allows any 8 days within the 30-day timeframe to be tracked using paper RODS.

Guidelines on yard moves

Yard moves involve trucks that are transferred to different docks, parking spots, or maintenance facilities within a compound or terminal.

Yard moves within a facility are usually conducted by several people besides the driver assigned to the truck to haul its freight. Because multiple drivers operate the truck within the facility, drivers are unsure on how to account for these yard moves under the new ELD mandate system.

DeLorenzo clarifies this uncertainty by emphasizing the importance of simply taking note and accounting for the mileage that was tracked by the vehicle’s ECM (Engine Control Module).

Even if yard moves aren’t counted against the HOS (Hours of Service) of a driver, DeLorenzo emphasized that these miles should be properly accounted for even during the times when the vehicle isn’t actively transporting freight.

Regulations on the AOBRD option

Finally, Joe DeLorenzo covered important regulatory reminders for drivers who wish to take advantage of the AOBRD extension to comply with the ELD mandate.

According to the director, drivers who wish to take the AOBRD route to comply with the ELD rule needs to have these devices “in use” by the start of the implementation date. It means that the trucks that don’t have AOBRDs installed in them after the deadline has passed are required to go with ELDs.

The AOBRDs that are already installed in trucks are required to remain in use and are non-transferable when past the ELD implementation date.

With the ELD rule, truck drivers are given the option to use AOBRDs instead of ELDs for an extended period of time — until December 16, 2019.

AOBRDs or ELDs: What Should You Buy?

The FMCSA predicts that some truck drivers would continue using AOBRDs until December 2019 — which is fully permitted according to the ELD rule, as long as the AOBRDs fulfill the requirements set by the FMCSA.

However, it raises an important question: should you use AOBRDs and extend the deadline by two years or just install ELDs right now?

The answer could be simple for fleets which are already using AOBRDs. They simply do not have to install ELDs until 2019.

However, there are some fleets that are considering whether or not they should buy AOBRDs now and then purchase ELDs after December 2019. Buy new AOBRDs and replacing all the devices after just 24 months do not make a lot of sense.

To answer these questions in more detail, we wrote a separate blog post that you should read: ELDs or AOBRDs — What Should You Buy?

The gist of that blog post is that you shouldn’t now buy AOBRDs, just to replace them with ELDs within a couple of years. Instead, if you really want to enjoy the added flexibility that comes up with AOBRDs, you should buy ELD solutions that are capable of working as AOBRDs.

For instance, KeepTruckin ELDs are fully compliant and FMCSA certified devices. However, they also offer a few flexible options that basically allow you to use your electronic logging devices as AOBRDs.

You can use turn on those settings in your web dashboard and use ELDs as AOBRDs until December 2019. After December 2019, you can just turn off those settings in a couple of seconds and start using fully compliant ELDs.

This way you won’t have to buy separate devices and waste valuable money.

Parting Advice

Either way you are going to need compliant engine-connected devices before the December 18, 2017, ELD implementation deadline.

Use our ELD feature comparison and ELD price comparison charts to find the best, most cost-effective ELD solution that fits the requirements of your fleet.

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