It has almost been a year since the first electronic logging device (ELD) Mandate deadline passed. Many carriers that were able to take advantage of the grandfather clause opted to use automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) and transition to ELDs by the second deadline — December 16, 2019. If it seems like no time has passed since last year’s deadline, keep in mind how much needs to be done in the next year.
As a refresher, the ELD Mandate grandfather clause states that a motor carrier that installs and requires a driver to use an AOBRD in accordance with § 395.15 before December 18, 2017 may continue to use the compliant, automatic onboard recording device no later than December 16, 2019.
If you are a carrier that needs to transition in the next year, consider all the training and planning that needs to take place well before the deadline. Here is a 10-step plan to get on the road to compliance.
- Get familiar with the new functionality
ELDs are very similar to the electronic logs that the industry has used for years. Most of the ELD Mandate requirements are concerned with how the devices and systems collect, store, and report log data.Here are a few of the new requirements:
- ELDs track additional fleet, truck, and driver information to create visibility with law enforcement and prevent fraudulent reporting. Carriers are expected to provide additional details about your fleet, the truck, and the driver. This information will be conveyed to law enforcement during compliance checks.
- A “Duty Status” is required to be assigned for all vehicle activity. Some of these statuses will occur automatically, while others can be selected manually.
- Devices are required to trigger an alert when there is ‘unassigned driving time’ on a driver log, or when a device malfunction is found.
- Understand operational implications
Research how the ELD requirements will affect your fleet’s operations. The types of changes to prepare for include:
- Automatic duty statuses: rules, thresholds, and requirements
- Using “Personal Conveyance” and “Yard Move”
- Driver and vehicle setup
- Fleet audits and reporting
- Carrier and driver log edits
- Unassigned vehicle activity (identification and reconciliation)
- Develop an implementation plan and timeline (optional for larger fleets)
Introducing any new application to your fleet is challenging and the same will be true with ELDs. Since an ELD implementation will affect many different roles and departments, it’s important to have a solid plan in place and stick with it. The plan should provide detailed timelines and areas of responsibility from start to finish and regular meetings should be scheduled to check on overall progress. If your fleet needs help in project planning or training and technical support, some ELD vendors offer services to help you during your transition to ELDs.
- Find the right solution
There are a variety of ELDs on the market from dozens of providers. It’s important you find a solution that’s a fit for how your drivers and company operate. When researching, look for providers that are credible and have been around long enough to have solid evidence of success rates.Most companies looking for an ELD want something basic that meets the minimum requirements of the ELD Mandate. However, many companies are realizing that they can save time and money through other valuable applications such as IFTA reporting. If you’re currently using an e-log, find out from your provider what you should do. Some providers will automatically update your existing system and prevent you from having to buy a new device.
- Develop guidelines and best practices (optional for larger fleets)
Before you begin training the company on the operational changes that ELDs require, it’s a good idea to take a moment to set some standards early on to help ensure a smoother transition.Examples of the types of processes that are good to standardize early on are:
- Guidance for consistent and clear annotation
- Processes for submission and retention of required supporting documents
- Processes for reporting and resolving ELD malfunctions or other technical issues
- Testing/pilot program (optional for larger fleets)
Before rolling out ELDs to the entire fleet, it’s always a good idea to test a solution with a smaller group to resolve any issues. This group should represent a cross-section of the larger audience to ensure the solution is vetted at every level. Some fleets choose this group at random, or by geography. The types of users to include in the test program should include drivers, administrative users (dispatchers, driver managers, fleet managers, etc.), and other users such as maintenance personnel and road techs.
- Train Drivers and Support Staff
Once installed, you should provide your drivers with training on how to use the device. Every driver using an ELD should know how to do the following by the mandate deadline:
- Log in
- Respond to unassigned driving hours the ELD records
- Record duty status changes
- Log edits (fleet and driver)
- Add notes to records to explain any edits or additions
- Certify records – to indicate that they are complete and accurate
- Access RODS data from the ELD
- Review and understand the ELD printout/display information
- Transfer ELD data by email or Bluetooth to inspectors or law enforcement
- Identify and correct or report data diagnostic issues
- Report ELD malfunctions
- Fleet-specific processes and procedures
In addition to training the drivers, there should be a plan in place to train the fleet support staff on the types of changes to expect with ELDs. These topics should be addressed:
- Driver and vehicle onboarding
- Compliance requirements and processes
- Supporting document requirements and processes
- ELD operations
- Log edits (fleet and driver)
- ELD data retention
- Understanding and preventing harassment and coercion
- ELD troubleshooting/malfunction
- Fleet-specific processes and procedures
- Learn the implications of non-compliance
After the deadline, if a non-exempt driver is caught without an AOBRD or ELD-compliant e-log, fines may be issued to the carrier. In some cases, the truck may be required to be taken off the road for up to 10 hours before resuming operations.If it’s determined that the device itself doesn’t comply with ELD requirements, carriers will have eight days to replace the device with a compliant solution. The ELD provider isn’t required to do anything. Choosing a credible vendor that you can trust to keep you compliant is a very important step to avoiding future legal and regulatory issues.
- Learn the data storage requirements – has not changed
Unlike previous rulemakings, the ELD Mandate also defines how your fleet stores Hours of Service data and for how long. Be sure to ask your ELD provider how to address this for your operations.
- You must retain ELD data and backup data for six months
- You must ensure secure storage of all data and backups to protect driver privacy
Some vendors will backup and store data automatically as part of their service contract, so be sure to check to see if this functionality is included as part of your service plan.
- Understand driver harassment and the penalties
It’s important that your drivers and dispatchers understand how ELD data can prevent driver harassment. In the new legislation, the fleet has additional responsibility and can even be penalized if it’s determined a dispatcher intentionally put a driver in a situation that led to an HOS violation.
- It is harassment if a carrier uses ELD data to pressure a driver to take action that results in an HOS violation or to drive when ill or fatigued
- Carriers are subject to a penalty for harassment as well as the penalty for the HOS violation
If that seems like a lot of work, work with your team to come up with a timeline to transition to ELDs — to ensure your fleet’s success.