In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released their final ruling for the implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). The document details the technical requirements with which ELD manufacturers must adhere.
The mandate affects hundreds of thousands of truck drivers who must switch from keeping paper logs that indicate miles driven and hours worked to electronic logs. Canadian truck drivers must also comply.
The purpose of instituting this mandate is to ensure that drivers are obeying the ‘hours driven’ restrictions making roads and highways safer by eliminating driver fatigue. The hours are set to prevent drivers from falling asleep or making careless decisions that cause accidents and possibly result in death for other drivers on the road.
Trucking competition will also level out with ELDs preventing drivers who currently abuse the Hours of Service (HOS) to provide faster transit times than those who abide by the rules.
Preparing for the ELD Transition
Currently, trucking companies and owner-operators use either the paper log system or automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRD). The time lines for implementation of ELDs are:
- Paper log users – December 18, 2017.
- AOBRD users purchased prior to December 2015 – a grandfather clause is incorporated into the mandate allowing for a transition period that would phase in ELDs by December 16, 2019.
Each ELD must conform to the FMCSA requirements in a format that is capable of transmitting standardized data to law enforcement agencies throughout the US.
How Much do ELDs Cost?
According to the ELD Facts website, the FMCSA has investigated the cost of an approved device to range from $200 to less than $1000 per vehicle annually. Their research provided an average cost of around $500 for one of the more popular devices.
Truckers should also consider that administrative costs stemming from the paper log system will reduce and create a return on investment (ROI) almost immediately. As such, owner-operators should not be at a disadvantage compared to large fleet trucking companies because the initial expense and subsequent ROI is based on a single vehicle.
The FMCSA has published the registration requirements on the link below. Basically, the ELD manufacturer must obtain certification that all technical specifications have been met according to the mandate. The trucker can then provide their necessary information to the FMCSA through their website.
In the case of AOBRDs, software updates may be available that comply with the specs of an ELD.
FMCSA Penalties for Non-compliance
As the implementation date is still 17 months away, the administration is still assessing possible measures for non-compliance. Considering the motives of the ELD mandate in terms of driver and public safety, one may expect the penalties to be quite severe.
While the FMCSA has estimated crash reduction costs of nearly $400 million annually and increased highway safety through the use of ELDs, the OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) disagrees. They challenged the mandate in March 2016, through the US Court of Appeals claiming that the devices will do very little to improve safety. They also claim that the implementation of ELDs is an invasion of privacy along the lines of 4th amendment rights of unreasonable searches and seizures. The OOIDA has successfully challenged this mandate in the past so time will tell if the legislation remains intact.