Electronic logging devices (ELD) are installed in commercial vehicles or trucks, which are connected to the engine, to record driving activity or a vehicle’s movement in a day.
In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandated truck drivers to install ELDs in their vehicles. The deadline for compliance of fleets and motor carriers was December 2017, and truckers are required to keep a record of their on-duty working hours, also called Record of Duty Status (RODS).
The main purpose of the ELD rule is to accurately track hours of service (HOS). FMCSA believes that the device is not just accurate, but will easily monitor a truck’s engine capturing if it’s running or moving, the driving hours, and the miles driven.
However, because this is a new technology for truck drivers, some are not yet used to it, giving them headaches and, in their minds, wasting time. You can avoid these problems, though, by knowing the most common ELD mistakes fleets make and how you can avoid them.
Which ELD technology to choose?
Most truckers think that any ELD is enough when, in fact, it’s not. It’s important to choose the ELD solution that will best suit you, even if it means that you have to pay a little bit more. It’s a common belief that as a price of an item goes up and the more features it offers the more benefits you will get.
Don't be fooled. There are many less qualified, unregistered ELD service providers. Be sure that all providers are approved and certified by the FMCSA and can deliver all of the requirements set by them. You may also check with the Better Business Bureau when researching ELD providers.
When buying your ELD, make sure to look for these key features:
- FMCSA compliant (see here for the list of registered ELD)
- Automatic HOS tracking and recording
- GPS tracking
- Recording of your truck’s power and motion status
- 24-hour period data
- 7 days data storage
- On-demand (via e-file or print out) copies of ELD records
Bonus Tip: CoverWallet provides support in getting an ELD when buying truckers insurance.
Training is essential for ELDs
Because most truck drivers are used to the traditional recordkeeping, you may need to go through some training to efficiently operate the new technology. As you carefully understand each step and feel comfortable using the device, the transition from the traditional to new technology becomes smoother.
For fleet owners, it’s ideal to install the devices to your trucks as soon as possible. This will give your drivers hands-on experience and enough time to learn about ELD operations. Proper training of your drivers keeps you from encountering numerous problems such as:
- Lack of knowledge about the new technology
- Lack of knowledge to handle some technical issues
- Incorrect transferring of data
It is also important to purchase the device from a provider that can present technical support for truck drivers and fleet managers, at any time.
Beware of your contract longevity!
As mentioned above, choose your ELD provider very carefully. Most providers want to bind your fleet with the technology for a long period – sometimes over 5 years. This is a mistake! A contract can weigh on your shoulders if, for example, the provider does not live up to your expectations. You could be missing better opportunities because you did not pay close attention to the duration of the contract. It is best to look for short one-year contracts as a start to give yourself the ability to switch providers if you aren’t satisfied. You may also try to find an ELD provider that offers a monthly contract or no contract at all.
Check your ELD regularly
Active enforcement of the ELD mandate requires truck drivers to quickly transition from the traditional paper log to a certified ELD. This leads to one problem that can easily be faced: a truck driver forgetting to log in and activating the ELD. Or, simply forgetting to log out when the ride was done.
To overcome this type of problem, it’s important to follow up day by day, and never let unassigned drive time to pile up, which could cause a bigger problem. You also have to log in and log out at the correct times, as incorrect log times create inaccurate duty hours. You cannot change the log when you stop driving, though, so you need to switch controls whenever you do non-driving duties and aren’t logged out yet.
ELD: An opportunity and obligation
ELD is both an opportunity and an obligation. Yes, installing ELDs and going through training to learn how you should operate it is obligatory, but it could actually act as much more than an obligation. ELD providers offer a big set of solutions that can bring higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Also, the technology offers you better solutions for your logging issues and acts as a transparency tool that can help you move your company forward.
Whether the ELD rule is an opportunity or obligation is up to you and how you look at it. But one thing is clear: the transition from traditional to new technology can be difficult, but it can be done. And the initial unfavorable response from owner-operators has changed and they are now adapting to this new policy.