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How Has ELD Affected Road Safety?

It has been more than a year that the ELD mandate was introduced and implemented. While for the U.S. Department of Transport, Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are a way to properly execute the rules of Hours of Service (HOS), many others believe that the devices would help in improving road safety. Governing authorities like the National Transportation Safety Board supported the mandate as they viewed it as a better way to enforce existing regulations, and make road travel safer for everyone.

Why the ELD mandate was created?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had two concerns – proper hours of service compliance and accuracy of paper logs. There were often cases of falsified records. Also, it was found that most accidents involving trucks were caused due to driver fatigue. Although rules for Hours of Service have been in place for decades, the chances of them being followed diligently were slim. The absence of appropriate and tamper-free records made it difficult to track HOS.

The ELD mandate was introduced by FMCSA in December 2015, and since December 2017, approved ELDs have been in use. The last deadline to switch to ELD is December 2019.

The Verdict:

Now that the ELD has been in use for over a year, several researchers have independently investigated its impact on road safety. According to them, ELD has not only failed to improve road safety, but the number of accidents in the past year has also increased.

ELD mandate has definitely decreased the percentage of intended violations of HOS. The drivers adhere more to the rules of hours of service as they are automatically recorded and cannot be changed. However, from a driver’s point of view, they are working lesser hours and hence are paid less. So, in order to get more work done in limited time, drivers often disregard rules of safe driving. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of speeding and unsafe driving violations. This has resulted in an increase in the number of accidents. You can read the entire paper here.

According to the researchers, ELD has several benefits too. The mandate has helped in saving time by reducing paperwork. The records are saved automatically, thereby increasing their authenticity. Owner-operators and inspecting authorities have more, better, and relevant information available on driving behavior. The mandate has also had a positive effect on warehouse operation, and has increased the cost-effectiveness of entire loading/unloading operations. This has in return helped in reducing driver detention and has a direct impact on improved ROI.

The Next Step:

The research was published in January 2019, and although there has been no official response from FMCSA, they are definitely in the discussion of enhancing ELD or mandating the use of speed-limiters for all commercial carriers. However, whether FMCSA will actually be amending or making additions to the ELD mandate is only a speculation.

Even before the paper was published, motor carrier companies knew the pitfalls of ELD as they were the first to notice the driving behavior. Unless FMCSA modifies the rules or brings out a new mandate, all motor carrier companies have to adhere to the current ELD mandate. What these companies can do is provide better training and education to the drivers on road safety.

The ELD deadline:

While most motor carriers have adopted ELD by the first deadline of December 2017, a few companies that used Automatic Onboard Recording Device, generally known as AOBRD are an exception to the rule. They are required to shift to ELD by December 2019.

If you own a motor carrier or are an operator for a carrier that uses AOBRD, it is high time that you switch to ELD as soon as you can. This will give you the time to train and educate your partners, employees, and drivers about the new technology.

Matrack Incorporation has designed an FMCSA-approved ELD – MA-ELD Classic. The device is easy to install and comes with a host of features that make it easy to record data regarding HOS, speed violations, fuel management, and vehicle maintenance. Apart from ELD compliance and HOS logs, some of the features of MA-ELD Classic include – real-time tracking, idle time tracking, violation alerts, engine temperature status, and IFTA tax filing. If you want to know more about the products and services of Matrack Incorporation, contact here.