with how huge the foreseeable impact of the ELD mandate is to the trucking industry, the people in the trucking space are bound to ask tons of questions about it.
In this guide, we are going to look at the ELD mandate from a 30,000 ft perspective, so you can have a better understanding of how the mandate works, and the other crucial details that you shouldn’t miss about it.
What is the ELD Mandate all about?
In its most basic form, the ELD mandate demands most commercial truck drivers who are required to keep paper records of their RODS (Records of Duty Status) to switch to using ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices).
The fleets who aren’t exempted have until December 2017 to start using DOT-certified ELDs to record their HOS. As for those who are currently using devices that meet the current standards for AOBRDs (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices), the FMCSA allows them up until December of 2019 to switch to ELDs.
An ELD is a certified electronic device that is connected to a truck’s engine, so it can automatically track the driving time, vehicle movement, engine hours, and other data which allows truckers to print reports when a DOT inspector requires it.
What are the exemptions?
Not everybody is supposed to have ELDs. Here are the four exemptions to the ELD mandate.
- Drivers who are not liable to record their RODS (Record of Duty Status).
- Drive-away-tow-away operations
- Pre-2000 trucks based on their VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
- Drivers who records RODS for less than 8 days in a 30-day period.
The ELD mandate upheld
Just two months ago (October 31, 2016), the SCCA (Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals) released a decision that favors FMCSA’s (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) stand towards upholding the ELD mandate.
OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) made their oral arguments on September 31st to have the mandate overturned.
These are the arguments presented by the OOIDA to the court of appeals.
“We now turn to petitioner’s’ five arguments for vacating the 2015 final rule: (a) ELDs will not record enough information automatically; (b) the rule fails to protect drivers sufficiently from harassment; (c) the rule’s benefits will not outweigh its costs; (d) the rule fails to protect the confidentiality of personal data collected by ELDs; and (e) the rule violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
While the court of appeals denied the OOIDA of their request to overturn the ELD mandate, they can appeal to the higher court if they want to pursue the case.
How to get ready for the ELD mandate
Because the deadline for the ELD mandate is just around the corner, it pays to prepare for it as soon as possible. You can use these tips to prepare for the ELD mandate:
1. Determine if you are affected.
Review the mandate to confirm that your trucking business is affected by it or if you fall under any of its exemptions.
Should you find that you aren’t affected by the ELD mandate, you might still want to consider installing ELDs in your vehicles mainly because of all the game-changing benefits that you can get from it.
2. Start your transition early.
The longer you delay transitioning to using ELDs, the riskier and more stressful things will become for you.
You’ll have less time to iron out the kinks in your ELD transition; you might end up on the ELD supplier’s wait list if ELD vendors can’t keep up with demands, and you might find yourself worrying about government-imposed penalties or timelines.
To rid yourself of these unnecessary stress, and to have more than enough wiggle-room for a smooth transition, going for early ELD adoption is your best bet.
3. Educate your employees about the benefits of using ELDs.
When your employees have a solid grasp of what the benefits are when using ELDs, there is a chance that they will be more receptive to the idea.
This can certainly lead to a lesser opposition from your team, which is always a good thing when you’re implementing new policies.
Remember that the use of ELDs is a culture change for drivers since they would have to shift from something very familiar to them — which is using paper logs — into using ELDs.
Of course, experiencing a culture change is almost always never easy for those involved. Unless you give them a clear benefit of why they should endeavor to accept the change, the chances are you may get many disgruntled employees.
4. Invest in training your employees.
There are several ways that you can conduct your training. You can run them online, or you can do them on-site — whichever is the most convenient for you and your drivers.
Some important topics that you can cover in your training are:
- How the hardware and the software works.
- Then nitty-gritty details of the ELD mandate.
- The benefits that truck drivers and trucking companies can get from using ELDs.
- How ELDs can help you — the owner — recognize which of your drivers are employing good driving habits so you can reward them.
- What your drivers and fleet managers can do when the device is broken.
When your drivers are equipped with the knowledge they need to transition to ELDs, the more confident they are at facing the new system since a good bit of their questions have already addressed in the pieces of training they’ve undergone.
5. Find a certified ELD provider based on the value they offer.
Choosing an ELD provider based on who’s quoting the lowest rates is isn’t enough. When you have this kind of mindset while choosing an ELD provider, you are bound to experience a plethora of problems down the line.
Instead of only focusing on the price, it is better to choose based on the value that the service provider can offer.
On the other hand, if you can find great prices + amazing features, then you are in for a treat.
You can look into these questions when choosing an ELD service provider for your business:
- Will they be able to meet FMCSA’s ELD requirements?
Not all ELDs are created equal. There are those that don’t meet FMCSA’s ELD standards, while there are some who will ace the requirements. You ought to make sure that your ELD provider is the latter.
Check our ELD Features Comparison Tool to find out vendors with FMCSA-certified ELDs.
- Will their system scale?
Should your number of trucks grow, you need to ascertain that you’d still be able to use the system that the service provider gave you without having any kind of setbacks.
- Can they ensure long-term compliance?
FMCSA’s rules and regulations are ever changing as it has been for years. Your ELD provider should be able to keep up with the compliance updates. Otherwise, they might end up becoming irrelevant when the next update happens, which can very well be the next week or the next coming months.
- How experienced is the ELD supplier?
Each trucking companies are unique. They have different needs, demographics, or business dynamics. You need to be able to trust in your ELD supplier to give you a solution that is tailor-fitted to your business needs.
6. Communicate better with your employees.
Despite all the training and seminars that you’ll conduct for your employees about the ELD mandate, they are bound to have several unanswered questions in their minds.
These unanswered questions or uncertainties can easily spiral down into something that can hamper your relationship with them — if you don’t address the uncertainties, that is.
Through having a clear line of communication between you and your employees, you can prevent unnecessary conflicts or problems brought about by the uncertainties that your employees have in their minds.
For example, some drivers aren’t keen on using ELDs because they think ELDs will automatically transmit their HOS violations to the law enforcers. (That’s not true, of course.)
Some drivers aren’t sure whether the device will, in fact, do that, or it won’t. Them not knowing can cause them unnecessary stress, so it is imperative that their questions are addressed immediately.
When your truck drivers can relay their additional questions to those who are in charge of the ELD mandate transition in your company, this situation can easily be avoided.
Benefits of using ELDs.
An amazing ELD will do a trucking company and its drivers more good than just getting them through the ELD mandate. There are truckloads of benefits to be had from having an ELD installed on your vehicles.
- Trucking companies will have a better CSA score — this can help them get more customers.
- You can improve communication between your drivers and fleet managers.
- You can reduce your fuel costs.
- You can get rid of the administrative costs that come with the paper logs.
- You can help your drivers focus on doing what they do best — driving. And not papers logs.
- You can help your drivers avoid HOS violations.
- You can help your drivers improve their driving skills by monitoring their bad driving habits — and give them proper feedback.
- You can help your drivers avoid heavy traffic or roads under construction.
- You can minimize the DOT fines that you would get from providing incomplete or inaccurate logs.
- It can help improve your fleets’ safety.
- It can help improve your drivers’ and fleet managers’ productivity.
While the benefits listed above are already quite lengthy, there are several more benefits a trucking company and its employees can get from using ELDs.