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E-Logs: What Your Fleet Business Needs To Know To Be Compliant

By Paul Fitzgerald for America's Backbone Weekly

What is the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate? What does it mean to the fleet industry? What should you do now?

FMCSA Mandate Goals

The primary goal of the FMCSA, as provided in its extensive 516-page ruling, is increasing highway safety for both fleet and non-commercial drivers. Trucker fatigue is the leading cause of highway accidents, commonly occurring when the driver doesn't take enough breaks. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 4,000 people die in large truck crashes each year with driver fatigue being a major factor.

Up until now, most truckers manually recorded their driving times in public and internal use logs at their discretion. The mandate would change that with ELDs. Under the mandate, ELDs will be linked to truck engines and automatically log driving times, engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information that result in accurate, verifiable information. This may be familiar to you if you are already using fleet tracking.

The FMCSA specifically is looking to better enforce standards for hours-of-service (HOS) through ELDs. The agency estimates that with HOS drivers, over 2200 crashes will be eliminated while the number is pegged at over 1800 with Record of Duty Status (RODS) drivers. Truck drivers have an 11-hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty.


How ELDs Work

An ELD must be able to transmit data using wireless web services or email ? or transfer data locally using Bluetooth? and a thumb or flash drive (USB2.0). The technology is able to pick up inconsistencies, flagging both driver and carrier. Those inconsistencies will also be sent to an authorized safety official.

The ELD data always remains stored in the cloud and is filed each day with the carrier in chart form. The real-time data is also accessible for random law enforcement inspections.

The trucking industry will benefit from increased device efficiency, reporting predictability while decreasing accidents and the loss of life. This new regulatory era will usher in further modernization and give confidence to both fleet owners and drivers that safety leads to better business outcomes.

Compliance Mandatories

Deadlines

  • Carriers and drivers using paper logs or logging software must transition to ELDs no later than December 18, 2017.
  • Carriers and drivers using AOBRDS (automatic onboard recording devices) prior to the compliance date must transition to ELDs no later than December 16, 2019.
  • All drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use certified, registered ELDs that comply with requirements of the ELD regulations after December 16, 2019.

What to do Now

  • Assess the cost of new ELDs and replace existing technology that does not meet the new criteria.
  • Identify the ideal ELD software program for your business along with the best Tablets for drivers to use in conjunction with the software.
  • Install ELDs in your fleet.
  • Provide training for drivers to adhere to the new reporting regime.
  • ELDs have to be enabled to allow drivers to login and stipulate three status points: on-duty; off-duty; and on-duty but not driving.
  • Mount visual display apparatus in fleet cabs that shows driver hours.
  • All devices must have standardized data to law enforcement via accepted technology.
  • All commercial motor vehicles must have either an AOBRD or ELD installed by December 18, 2017.
  • All devices must be ELD compliant by December 16, 2019.

Resources

The FMCSA website (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/) posts a list of self-certified ELDs. Tablets must be used in conjunction with ELDs for accessing data and inspection reporting. There are a variety of ELD compatible Tablets on the market that are ideal for fleet operators. U.S. Cellular is partnering with innovative GPS and Fleet Tracking Management companies like GPS Track IT and Actsoft to ensure a smooth transition to compliance under the new mandate. It's important to note that your operations will benefit from using a national wireless carrier that not only has nationwide coverage, but a strong signal that works even in remote places.

Exemptions

Drivers are exempt from the ELD rule if they:

  1. Operate under the short-haul exceptions and are not required to use RODS
  2. Use paper RODS for not more than eight day out of every 30-period
  3. Conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered
  4. Use a vehicle manufactured before 2000.

Non-Compliance Penalties

The penalty for drivers/carriers found guilty of not completing or keeping a log or making a false log will average $9,162. Drivers and carriers face steep fines for other infractions such as driving too long without breaks or not submitting logs within 13 days of driving.

With planning and forethought, the FMCSA compliance transition can be relatively seamless and serve to improve your company's internal communications and its safety record. It's advisable to plan now to make sure you select the right technology for your fleet business.

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