Making sense of the mandate
Making sense of the ELD Mandate

Almost everyone in the trucking industry is aware of the upcoming deadline of the ELD mandate. Some are ecstatic about it, while others dread the day of having to install ELDs in all of their trucks. Indeed, both opposing parties certainly have a thing or two to say about the ELD mandate.

However, what some truckers aren’t aware of is how the ELD mandate came to be. What its history was? What compelled the FMCSA to push for the ELD requirement? And why it was bound to happen?

These are just some of the many questions that will be answered right now as we try to make sense of the ELD mandate.

Before we continue with the history and the nitty-gritty of the ELD requirement, however, let us first cover several words/phrases that are important to the industry.

Terms that you need to know

  • AOBRDs (Automatic Onboard Recording Devices)

    AOBRDs is an electronic, mechanical or electromechanical device that is used to track/record a driver’s status. The term was defined during the 1980s.

  • EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder)

    Electronic On-Board Recorders are still devices attached to the engine of a truck that also records/tracks the amount of time the vehicle is being driven — pretty much like AOBRDs.

    EOBRs, however, is a technical term used for the FMCSA regulations during the early 2000s until it was vacated. It was meant to replace the term AOBRD but the rulemaking to finalize it never happened.

  • ELD (Electronic Logging Device)

    An ELD is an electronic device certified by the Department-of-Trade that’s connected to a truck’s engine to record/track driving hours (among other data).

    It is the newest official term (replacing EOBRs) used in the trucking industry that was created by the 2012 MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century).

  • FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration)

    While the FMCSA has several functions, one of its main responsibilities is to create and implement data-driven rules that would help balance the bus and truck companies safety and efficiency.

  • OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association)

    The OOIDA is a trade organization that focuses on the welfare of truck drivers. The organization was founded on 1973.

  • HOS (Hours Of Service)

    The Hours of Service rules are developed and enforced by the FMCSA. They are meant to limit a drivers’ number of daily (or weekly) working hours for the main purpose of keeping fatigued drivers away from public roadways to prevent accidents or crashes.

  • RODS (Record of Duty Status)

    RODS or Record of Duty Status are commonly known as the driver’s log. This is a document used by drivers to track and record their time.

The ELD timeline

Before the term ELDs and the ELD mandate came to be, truckers were already using electronic devices to keep track of their HOS way back in the late 1980s. However, it was not until 1988 when regulations were made that defined AOBRDs and its standard uses.

In 2000, the FMCSA proposed regulations that would require the use of ELDs, but the regulation was declined by a court order made in 2004.

In 2010, the FMCSA published a final rule that would require motor carriers who had serious HOS issues to use electronic recorders. They also made a clear distinction between the previous systems and the new ones on the same rule. This is where the term EOBRs was introduced.

The devices meeting the requirements of the original regulation were called AOBRDS, while the devices meeting the requirements of the published final rule on 2010 were called EOBRs.

During the same year (2010), OOIDA filed a lawsuit which ultimately ended up cancelling FMCSA’s rule in 2012. The regulation was cancelled because FMCSA couldn’t resolve the driver harassment issues in the rule.

In 2012, the US Congress passed the MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) Bill. It required the FMCSA to create a rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices or ELDs. This was when the term ELD was introduced. It was meant to replace the terms, AOBRDs and EOBRs to prevent confusion.

The ELD mandate was once again forwarded to legislation in 2014, where the final version of the mandate was released in December 2015.

Challenging the ELD Mandate

On September 13, 2016, OOIDA made their oral arguments to challenge the ELD mandate (they filed the lawsuit in March).

The decision of the SCCA (Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals) came out in favor of FMCSA as the court disagreed with all the arguments pointed out by the OOIDA.

Two of OOIDA’s biggest arguments were about the mandate violating the truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy, and the rule not meeting the standards set by the Congress.

The court found that those arguments were not valid and the ELD mandate doesn’t violate the Fourth amendment.

Important deadlines to remember

Because the ELD mandate is still in effect, everyone in the trucking industry needs to keep track of these two very important dates:

December 18, 2017
Truckers who are not exempted in the mandate needs to become ELD compliant before December 18, 2017.

The exemptions are still in effect for the towaway drivers, the Pre-2000 vehicles, the drivers who have RODS less than eight days in a 30-day cycle, and those who are not required to keep RODS.

December 16, 2019
The drivers who install a compliant AOBRD before December 18, 2017, have until December 18, 2019 to be ELD compliant.
How is the ELD mandate going to affect my trucking business?

Cost of compliance

Some commercial motor carriers worry about the effects of installing ELDs in their trucking business. In most cases, their main concerns are related to the fees that are associated with getting and installing the ELDs.

True enough, the trucking companies would have to pay additional fees for the ELDs. However, it also needs to be said that they don’t have to pay a lot of money to be compliant.

While some ELD providers charge $40 – $50 per device per month and would also charge additional for the installation fees and hardware, there are also those who offer DOT-certified ELDs for as low as $20. Not only that, these affordable ELD providers also do not charge for installing the device on the trucks.

Better work environment for the drivers.

ELDs can prove to be of great help to truck drivers. These are some of the benefits drivers can enjoy when ELDs are installed in their trucks:

  • Because ELDs will preemptively notify drivers if they are approaching a violation, truck drivers won’t have to worry about violating HOS rules.
  • Drivers will know if they are running low on hours because ELDs will automatically track their driving time.
  • Truck drivers can reach out to their fleet managers directly via the logbook apps through direct messaging. This makes it easier for them to request for help should they need any.
  • Drivers won’t have to hassle themselves with filling out tedious paper logs since reports can be obtained directly from ELDs.

Better fleet management

The web dashboards offered by the ELD providers to the trucking companies are often packed with helpful data that can help fleet managers oversee fleets effectively.

Through the fleet management dashboard, fleet managers can message truck drivers directly, audit drivers’ logs, track a driver’s location in real-time, and generate IFTA fuel tax reports.

The fleet managers can also analyze drivers’ performance since ELDs can monitor a vehicle’s movements in real-time. It can tell when trucks make sudden stops, sharp turns, or excessive acceleration (among other things). These details are important for fleet managers when giving proper feedback to truck drivers. Of course, when proper feedback is given, it can ultimately help in keeping drivers from experiencing accidents.

Improved CSA score

Because ELDs can help prevent HOS violations and road accidents, trucking companies are bound to see an improvement in their CSA scores when ELDs are installed in their trucks.

ELDs can also keep trucking companies from getting form and manner errors or violations due to outdated logs, since reports are generated from the ELD device and drivers won’t have to put in the numbers manually.

Doing pre-trip vehicle checkups is also a lot easier with ELDs because ELD devices can tell you if fault codes are detected in your vehicle. When you think about how tire-related violations will garner you a penalty of 8 points, you’ll be glad that ELDs are there to detect your maintenance issues.

Get more clients.

Having a good CSA score speaks volumes about a trucking company, its drivers, and its fleet managers. Since the CSA score is based on how a carrier and its drivers perform against the CSA BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories), the prospective clients will have a better grasp of how a trucking company operates based on their CSA scores.

These are the seven categories covered on the BASICs:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Crash Indicator
  • Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Controlled Substance/Alcohol
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance
  • Driver Fitness

If a trucking company has a good CSA score, the assumption is that they are safe and secure to work with, reliable, and the chances of clients running into problems when working with them are highly unlikely.