FMCSA and the Department of Transportation started implementing the Electronic Logging Device Mandate in 2016 and put it in full effect in December of 2019 applying to all commercial vehicles in the industry with a few exemptions.
What is an ELD?
ELDs are installed into a vehicle’s engine and they collect data such as a driver’s Hours of Service when the engine is running or shut off, when the vehicle is moving or stopped, how many miles have been driven as well as many other options depending on what type of device you choose.
They are designed to take away paperwork and make businesses and day-to-day driving more efficient for everyone. With drivers able to have all data kept electronically they are no longer trying to find and keep their paper logbooks up-to-date or trying to find fax machines to send their paperwork in. With the data coming through the ELD systems to your fleet’s network the office staff is no longer trying to track down papers from drivers in between trips or wonder where a piece of paper is.
What is the ELD Mandate?
The ELD Mandate is a federal law that requires all commercial vehicles weighing in over 10,001 pounds to have ELDs installed in their vehicles. The mandate was put in place to improve road safety and to reduce the number of accidents that happen in the United States, many of which are caused by driver fatigue from not taking adequate rest time. Implementing these changes a little bit at a time gave companies and drivers the chance to practice with their devices before it was an actual law.
How to be ELD Compliant?
Installing any ELD in your fleet’s vehicles will not automatically make you compliant with the mandate. The ELD you choose needs to be on the ELDs registered and self-certified list on the FMCSA’s website.
Another thing to look into before purchasing an ELD system is to make sure that they can work under 4G and 5G cellular networks as the 3G networks are getting ready to be phased out and the ELDs will no longer function correctly and therefore not be compliant.
If your ELDs are not kept up-to-date and if you are not using a registered ELD system your company could end up with fines to pay as well as tractors sitting until the corrections are completed. This not only costs money upfront with the fines, but you lose money any time you have a tractor with the wheels not turning.
What are ELD exemptions?
While the ELD mandate does cover the majority of commercial vehicles on the road there are a few exemptions where they are not required.
- Non-Business Related Transportation of Personal Property
- If your GVWR, GVW, GCWR, or GCW (whichever is largest) is under 10,001 pounds
- If you travel within a 100 air-mile radius and work less than 12 hours a day
- Vehicles that were built in or before the year 2000
- Drivers who are required to complete Record of Duty Status (RODS) for only 8 days or fewer in a 30 day period
If you primarily haul agricultural products you may also fall under certain exemptions, especially during harvest time. This will be something you will want to research well in case you have a driver get a DOT inspection during these periods.
How Will ELD Compliance Mandate Affect My Fleet?
While the initial reaction from many drivers and companies was negative as the mandate was being implemented, the overall goal is actually to make the day-to-day business more efficient for everyone. However, with change and new systems, there is always some resistance and bugs that need to be worked out.
Once the ELDs are installed it is imperative to make sure that everyone on your staff knows how to properly use them as well as be able to upload the data. Your office staff will need to be able to upload the data to your system so that you can properly maintain your fleet. Your drivers will need to know how to upload the data for their own records as well as if they were to be pulled over for a DOT inspection. It is also important that you have a copy of the FMCSA’s ELD mandate posted in your office, as well as paperwork given to each driver so they understand the importance of this part of the business and how it can affect the company.
With the ELD system, FMCSA and the Department of Transportation can electronically get data from any inspections that are completed for your tractor units. Passing these DOT inspections is imperative as any negative marks will not only affect your Commercial Safety Rating but could also cost you in the long run with insurance premiums.
Once you get the initial process of learning how to work the ELDs you can then begin to use the data to your advantage. The ability to have data that is available in real-time and electronically logged gives you a chance to really manage your fleet more efficiently. Your dispatchers can begin to see and plan better routes for the drivers based on the ELD data coming through. You can also see where savings can be made as far as fuel use and less idling time.
Another advantage of using ELDs is that your tractors are always under GPS tracking. This can be useful in day-to-day cases as well as in emergency situations. If you have a driver you are unable to get a hold of you can at least know where the tractor is and go from there. It is also helpful in cracking down on cases of theft.
At the end of the day, ELDs can be a useful tool in making your fleet more efficient and safe. It keeps your drivers less fatigued and not constantly worried about filling out their paper logs. It keeps your office clear of paper clutter and all of your data in one place that can be easily accessed for your daily tasks as well as if you were to be audited.
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