7 tips for installing ELDs in 2018
7 tips for installing ELDs in 2018

As you know, the FMCSA’s ELD mandate has been effective since December 18, 2017. Non-exempt commercial drivers are required to install electronic logging devices to stay compliant.

However, according to a recent Bloomberg/Truckstop Quarterly Truckload Survey, approximately 868,000 drivers ended 2017 without a compliant ELD solution.

There were several reasons they didn’t comply in time. Some CMV drivers couldn’t find the right ELD solution; some waited for the vendors to ship their electronic logging devices; a few of them had exemptions, while some gambled on a potential delay in CVSA enforcement.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced in September 2017, that vehicles wouldn’t be put out-of-service before April 1, 2018 for not having ELDs. Following this, the FMCSA also announced that non-compliance of carriers with the ELD mandate wouldn’t impact their CSA scores until April 1.

That marked the period between December 18, 2017 and April 1, 2018 as a “soft enforcement” period, which was meant to help carriers transition to the ELD mandate more smoothly.

But now as the April 1 deadline is drawing near, drivers and carriers are again in a whirl. They are worried about how to become compliant with the right ELD solution in time.

This blog post addresses the issue and shares 7 tips for installing ELDs in 2018.

1. Find an FMCSA-compliant ELD

There is no point in installing an ELD which is not FMCSA-compliant.

Most carriers and truckers just rely on the FMCSA’s list of self-certified ELDs. However, it is important to remember that not all ELDs in the FMCSA’s list are 100% compliant.

Speaking on this issue, Annette Sandberg, ex-FMCSA head, once said:

“As a former regulator, the biggest concern I have is the number of ELD vendors that are currently on the FMCSA list [of approved vendors] that probably should not be. Vendors on this list are supposed to have ELD systems that can be self-certified, which means it meets the criteria and can be added to the approved list.”

Therefore, the tip is to remember that you will have to do your own research before buying an ELD solution. Merely relying on the FMCSA’s self-certified list will not do you any good.

The good news is that the FMCSA has provided a set of technical specifications that a compliant ELD must have. Use the FMCSA’s checklist to determine whether or not your favorite ELD solution fits the standards set by the FMCSA.

2. Read plenty of user reviews

To get your hands on the most efficient ELD solution, you should read plenty of third-party and user reviews. ELDratings.com is a good independent resource that has genuine ELD reviews.

You can also find reviews on the ELD vendor’s Facebook page and on the iTunes and Google Play Store pages where the ELD apps are listed.

When analyzing reviews, pay special attention to any compliance-related issues. For example:

  •   App crashes or freezes
  •   Incorrect location, odometer, and mileage data
  •   A reliance on cellular connectivity
  •   Not recognizing duty status changes
  •   Modifying duty status changes incorrectly
  •   An inability to send correct output files during roadside inspections
  •   Unreliable notifications for upcoming violations

If multiple customers report one or more of these compliance-related issues, then the ELD you are seeking is not the right one.

3. Select an ELD that is very easy to use

Since electronic logging devices are relatively a new technology, many drivers find it hard to operate the devices. It is imperative, therefore, that you must select an ELD solution that has a simple design, functionality, and easy-to-use features.

Especially the ELD mobile apps — that act as the user-interface — should be simple, intuitive, and easy to use.

When reading third-party and user reviews, make sure to keep an eye out on how easy (or complex) an ELD solution is for your peers in the industry. If several drivers find an app easy-to-use, chances are that you will feel the same.

4. Reliable technical support

Because most drivers on the road are new to using electronic logging devices, they would need continuous support from their ELD vendor.

Almost all ELD companies provide some level of technical support, but not all of them can be totally relied upon.

Therefore, it is extremely crucial that you get in contract with an ELD company that takes support seriously. After-sales service is all the more important if you don’t want headaches down the road.

The best way to check the quality of a company’s tech support system is by finding its support line number and giving it a call. See how quickly they respond and answer your queries.

If you don’t get a satisfactory response, it would be a good idea to look at other companies. Reliable technical support is one of the most important things for drivers as well as fleet managers when buying an ELD solution. Otherwise, you may be stuck in a years-long contract with an ELD company that doesn’t have a good technical support system.

5. Compare ELD prices

Before you buy any ELD, make sure to check what others are charging.

You will be surprised to see the stark differences between how different ELD companies price their devices.

There are some companies that are charging thousands of dollars per ELD. However, there are also some that are offering more reliable and feature-rich ELD solutions at just $20 or $30 per device.

If you can find those companies, you’d be able to save thousands of dollars.

The good news is that we have already done pretty much everything for you. Our free ELD price comparison tool lists almost all big ELD vendors and the prices they charge per device.

Use this free tool to find the best and most cost-effective ELD solution for your business.

6. Shipping time

The April 1 “full enforcement” deadline is just days away. This is why shipping time is an important aspect that you can’t neglect.

Around December 18, 2017, ELD companies received thousands and thousands of ELD orders from drivers all over the country. Not all companies were able to fulfill the sudden surge in demand. As a result, many drivers couldn’t get an ELD in time.

A similar situation is expected again.

And after April 1, ELD violations will result in severe penalties, e.g., damage to CSA scores, out-of-service criteria enforcement, loss of revenues, etc.

Therefore, when you are buying an ELD now, take into account the time it would take you to receive the ELD and set it up.

For instance, KeepTruckin is claiming 3-day shipping. How many days would it take your ELD vendor to ship your ELD?

7. Install and test

The tip is to remind you of the stiff mandate enforcement that would follow April 1.

Therefore, it is important to acquire ELDs as soon as possible and use these last few days for setting up ELDs, driver training, and trial runs.

Setting up everything before full enforcement begins on April 1 would ensure smooth operations after the “soft enforcement” period ends.

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