Not all ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) are equal. There are those that meet FMCSA’s (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) technical guidelines, and there are those that do not.
We all know that trucking companies are buying ELDs (electronic logging devices) so they can get FMCSA compliant. But it’s not that simple.
Even if you buy an ELD, it is very much possible that you still fail to be FMCSA compliant. In order to be fully compliant, you need to buy FMCSA-certified ELDs. Any ELD that is not certified won’t do the job that you want it to.
There is still so much ignorance about this topic. There is a common misconception that you buy an ELD, and that’s it. Today, we discuss the topic of DOT-compliance ELDs in detail.
Requirements for ELDs to be compliant.
For any ELD to be included in FMCSA’s list of compliant ELDs, the devices need to:
- Meet FMCSA’s technical specifications.
- They need to be certified by the provider as compliant.
- They need to be registered with FMCSA.
Let’s take a look at some of the performance and design specifications that ELDs must feature.
- The electronic logging device needs to be directly synchronized with the vehicle’s engine. It needs to be plugged directly to the truck’s diagnostic port/engine so it can track the vehicle’s movement automatically.
- The ELD’s time should be synchronized with UTC (coordinated universal time).
- The ELD should enable the carriers to create separate accounts for admins and drivers.
- The electronic logging device should allow truck drivers to log in to select their status. However, the device must monitor/track the drive segments automatically based on the truck’s movement.
- The device needs to be tamper-proof. The carrier or driver is not allowed to delete or edit any of the data recorded by the ELD. The data collected needs to be 100% accurate and credible.
- Graphic grid display. The device needs to be able to display (or print out) a graphic grid of the driver’s daily duty status.
- The device needs to have volume or mute controls for any of its audio features.
- The ELD needs to be able to track the vehicle’s location, date, driver identification, vehicle miles, and when the vehicle shuts down or powers up.
- The device needs to record the truck/driver’s driving time automatically. If a vehicle’s speed exceeds 5 mph, then it is considered in motion.
- ELDs should require drivers to review unidentified driver records.
While the list above certainly isn’t a complete one, the ELD provider needs to be able to demonstrate to the carriers each of the features.
The existing list of compliant devices.
As of this time of writing (January 18, 2017), there are 18 self-certified ELDs (by the manufacturers) registered on FMCSA’s website:
This list is monitored by FMCSA. If they find at any point that any of the devices in their list is not compliant with their technical specifications, they will remove that ELD from this list.
FMCSA will first send the manufacturer a written notice stating that they will remove the version or model of their ELD from the website, and also the corrective action that the ELD provider can take to keep this from happening.
In the event that FMCSA does end up removing an item from their list, they will make an industry announcement through their website and other modes of communication.
What you need to look out for when choosing an ELD.
1. The provider needs to have ample amount of experience in the trucking industry.
The trucking industry is ever changing. If an ELD provider isn’t well-versed with the ins-and-outs of the industry, chances are good that their services are lacking simply because they do not know the real needs of CMV drivers.
After all, being compliant to the ELD rule is just one of the many needs of CMV drivers. Truckers also expect ELDs to have additional features that can help them grow their business and make their lives better.
2. The ELD must have a powerful fleet management system.
An FMS (Fleet Management System) can do wonders in terms of helping the trucking company achieve insurmountable growth. If the trucking companies are using ELDs without good fleet management system, then they’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
3. The device needs to be compliant with FMCSA’s standards.
That is absolutely criticla.
As mentioned previously, a carrier that’s using an ELD that isn’t compliant with FMCSA’s guidelines can still be considered as non-compliant to the ELD mandate.
Companies need to be absolutely sure that the ELDs they are purchasing follows FMCSA’s requirements.
4. The ELD should be reasonably priced.
Nope. ELDs are not supposed to be expensive. There are many high-quality ELDs that are reasonably priced. Carriers can acquire ELDs for as low as $20 – $30 per device (per vehicle) per month.
It isn’t necessary for carriers to pay over $100 per device per month for them to be compliant.
If carriers invest some time finding the right ELD provider, they can get lots of value out of their ELDs without having to break the bank.
For your convenience, we have created an interactive ELD price comparison chart. Just select how many ELDs you need, and we will tell you where you can buy it at the lowest possible price.
5. ELD providers should operate in Canada, Alaska, or the oil fields.
The FMCSA regulations aren’t the same in the US, Alaska, Canada, and the oil fields. If the ELD installed in a truck can’t operate in these places, drivers might find themselves violating FMCSA’s regulations.
6. Can the ELD provider scale should the carrier decide to grow their fleet?
With the kind of value ELDs can bring to the table, trucking companies are bound to experience growth and expansion.
In situations where carriers decide to expand, their ELD provider needs to be able to support them. Otherwise, they could impede the company’s growth.
7. Superb customer support.
Considering how some of the ELD features are relatively new, truckers are bound to have some questions about the device and how it works. The ELD manufacturer needs to be able to address these questions comprehensively.
There has to be a robust support center readily available to help fleet managers as well as drivers.