As of December 2019, all commercial vehicles weighing over 10,001 pounds (outside of a few exemptions) are required to have Electronic Logging Devices installed. With such a large market there are going to be many options to choose from, however, they are not all made the same and we are here to help you know what to look for when finding the right ELD for you and your commercial trucking business.
What Is An ELD?
ELDs are designed to be installed into a vehicle’s engine and automatically record data that can then be distributed to your motor carrier’s home base as well as uploaded for the driver to review or in case of a DOT inspection on the road. The main reason for designing and mandating ELDs is to try and make the driver’s life easier by taking away the task of keeping track of all this data on paper every day (since it is a requirement in commercial driving) as well as to keep companies from manipulating drivers into driving too many hours during a set period of time and forcing them to drive when fatigued. Drivers, typically in smaller businesses, would also manipulate their logbooks trying to drive more hours in hopes of a larger paycheck.
How Does an ELD work?
ELDs are made to do all of the daily work that the driver used to have to do and then some. It collects data such as Hours of Service, when the engine is running or stopped, if the vehicle is moving or stopped, how many miles have been driven, along with other options you can program depending on what you are wanting to monitor. With the technology available today if there is a stat that you want to track, there is a way for you to do it.
All of this information that is collected is then transmitted to the home base of the motor carrier so that dispatch and management can see exactly how the day-to-day operations are progressing. This can also improve the communication between drivers and their dispatchers.
It is also able to be viewed by the driver for a visual tracker as well as easy to access in case of a DOT inspection while on the road. No more panicking that your logbook isn’t filled out when you see those lights flashing behind you. Passed inspections with the updated equipment will not only help a driver pass inspection but can improve CSA scores and a motor carrier’s insurance rates.
What Makes an ELD FMCSA Approved?
In order to be FMCSA approved an ELD must be self-registered with the FMCSA. That is supposed to prove that the makers of the ELD have put their product through the tests and that it has passed the technical specifications needed in order to make the list. A few things that need to be checked and verified are that the ELD can separate between driver and motor carriers’ accounts, must turn on within a minute of the engine being turned on, and should issue a verbal or audio warning if a driver doesn’t log in immediately. It is also vital that the data is unable to be manipulated by either the driver or the motor carrier. One of the main focuses of ELDs is to take human error out of the data collecting equation in commercial trucking.
It is imperative that the ELD you choose meets all of these requirements. You don’t want to invest your hard-earned dollars into a product that fails and then still sets your company up for fines or out-of-service violations.
Finding an ELD that keeps accurate data, retains it, and then is able to create a data file for output are the core basics of ELDs but they can offer your business so much more if they go beyond that.
In 2022 your ELD system must also be compatible with 4G and 5G networks as many cellular networks are starting to phase out their 3G systems and you don’t want an ELD that isn’t able to work on the current networks.
List of FMCSA Approved ELDs
Currently, there are over 800 approved ELDs on the FMCSA’s website. You must remember that just because they are on the list today doesn’t actually mean that they are going to meet all of the requirements, it simply means that the manufacturer has stated that they passed all of the tests. You must do diligent research to find what brand and options will work best for your company while still being compliant with the ELD mandate.
If you own a fleet of tractors you will want to look into specific ELD systems for fleets. There are options out there that have been designed with those specifications in mind and give you more features to help make your business as efficient as possible.
There are ELDs on the list that are 100% compliant with the FMCSA and those are the elite systems that you want to look for.
Finding an FMCSA-approved ELD that is easy to use will also help your business run more smoothly. It should be simple enough that a quick walk-through with either your driver or someone in your office should have them comfortable enough to immediately start using it.
When determining the initial costs of your new ELD system you will also want to look at how much the monthly service fees are. This is a part of the business where your cheapest options might not be the best way to go. Most companies will charge a by-the-month fee to keep software updated and finding the best all-around deal not only on a great product but also superior customer service and support will pay dividends going forward.
Another detail you will need to look into when you choose your ELD is whether or not it connects to an in-cab tablet or if it will sync with your driver’s mobile device. If your drivers are still trucking with their flip phones you will definitely need to have a system that can run in-cab. This also could be a better option if you have a high driver turnaround or just want to have more control of the entire system.
Here is the complete list from the FMCSA’s website with the current ELDs that have been self-certified and registered.
Truckbase works tirelessly so you don’t have to, with our tools at your disposal you’ll be able to spend more time with family and on the road, so check out our TMS by booking a demo today!