Right time to implement ELD? – NOW!!!!
When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration introduced the ELD Mandate in December 2015, it came up with two deadlines for implementation. One was December 2017 – for all commercial motor vehicle carriers and drivers, and second for those carriers that used Automatic On-Board Recording Device, generally known as AOBRDs. The deadline for implementation for the latter is December 2019, which is just a few months away. So for a motor carrier or driver, covered under the AOBRD extension, the time to start the implementation process was yesterday!
After 16th December 2019, drivers maintaining record of duty status will have to mandatorily use electronic logging device. The ELD mandate was introduced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that hours of service rules were followed diligently. It is important to note that the ELD mandate only attempts at making it easier for the drivers to record driving data, and improve safety and working environment for them. It does not bring any changes into the Hours of Service rules, it rather assists in complying with them.
AOBRDs vs. ELD
One question that motor carriers and driver using Automatic On-Board Recording Device often ask is if they have a device that automatically records data, why do they need to switch to electronic logging devices? ELDs are updated versions of AOBRDs with more accurate data recording and lesser driver intervention, therefore ensuring the authenticity of the data.
- Roadside Inspection: During inspection, transfer of data from the vehicle or the driver to the safety officer has to be in a predetermined format, and the AOBRDs do not offer the same. Also, only time and duty status is displayed on the device. ELDs, on the other hand, can transfer data either via Email or any other web service, or through USB or Bluetooth. In case of unavailability of network, ELD also offer standardized driver’s log information to the inspecting officer a proper visibility of the data without the later entering into the vehicle, or through printout.
- Location Records: AOBRDs record location data at each change of duty status. The data can either be recorded automatically or manually by the driver. Whereas, ELDs record location data after every 60 minutes while the vehicle is moving. The data such collected is precise to two decimal places, unless the driver is using the vehicle for personal reasons. The location data is collected in longitudes and latitudes, along with approximate distance and direction of the nearest city, town or village, together with state abbreviation.
- Automated Driving Status: AOBRDs do not record driving status automatically. Most ELDs record driving status automatically as soon as the vehicle crosses a speed of 5mph, which is the speed limit for a vehicle to be considered as moving. However, if the driver choses special driving category like yard moves or personal conveyance, the ELD does not record the driving status.
- Editing Driver’s records: AOBRDs do not have any clear provisions on editing a driver’s records. RODS (Record of Duty Status) collected through AOBRDs can be edited by the motor carrier, but the record of edit thus made is not recorded. On the other hand, ELDs record most data automatically. So most data cannot be edited. Any edit made is recorded, preserving the actual data, and must be accompanied with an annotation mentioning the necessity of the edit made. Motor carriers can suggest edits in the driver’s logs, however the edits are required to be certified or accepted by the driver. These provisions were included in the ELDs to avoid driver harassment and coercion.
- Special Driving Categories: AOBRDs do not offer any separate category to record yard moves or driving time while the vehicle is used by the driver for personal reasons. ELDs offer this option, and it can be enabled by the driver only after proper permission from the motor carrier. Driver can select and deselect special driving category, but he/she must provide the reason in annotation.
- Unidentified Driving trips: ELDs record unidentified driving trips, when an authorised driver hasn’t logged in to the system. Sometimes an employee or technician can drive the vehicle for reasons as repair, fuel refilling, or more. In such cases the ELD records it as unidentified driving tips, which the motor carrier must provide an appropriate reason for in annotations. Once the authorised driver logs in, the ELD prompts to accept or reject the unidentified driving trip. AOBRDs, however, do not have any such provision.
The modern ELDs offer everything that the AOBRDs did, and much more. Because most data is recorded automatically, and any changes to it are also recorded, it is difficult for any discrepancies to arise. The current Hours of Service Rules are designed to ensure that drivers have proper breaks to take rest and drive only for a certain number of hours each day. This helps in avoiding fatigue and sleep deprivation, which was one of the major causes of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles.
Some of the other benefits of implementing ELDs are:
- Safety: As mentioned earlier, the underlying cause of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles are over-worked, sleep-deprived, stressed and fatigued drivers. ELDs are built to adhere to the rules of Hours of Service, thereby letting the driver as well as the motor carrier know when they are in proximity of a regulation violation. In order to avoid penalisation, fines and negative CSA score, it is imperative that the HOS rules are followed perfectly. Adherence to rules creates a safer work environment for drivers and improves overall road safety.
- Location tracking: Electronic logging device starts tracking location of the vehicle every 60 minutes while it is on the move. Together with a fleet management system, ELDs can give real-time location to confirm that the vehicle is in the predetermined route. Also, in case the route is congested due to traffic, accident, maintenance or any other weather related reason, managers and drivers can plan a better route to save time. In case a vehicle is being hijacked or shipment is stolen, location tracking can help in faster retrieval.
- Fuel Management: ELDs help in idle-time tracking and therefore can record the amount of fuel wastage. Fuel efficiency also increases when better routes are planned through the ELD and Fleet Management System.
- IFTA Tax Calculation: IFTA or International Fuel Tax Agreement is a cooperative initiative taken by 48 U.S. states and 10 provinces in Canada to unify the payment of fuel tax by truck drivers engaging in interjurisdictional travel under a single license. Prior to IFTA, the truck drivers had to apply for permit as well as report and pay fuel tax to every state they travelled, separately. IFTA tax filing is required to be done at the end of every quarter. ELDs that have been integrated with a smart fleet management system can easily generate the required reports, which makes filing for tax easier and time efficient. As most data in the ELD is recorded automatically, the reports generated are also authentic and accurate.
- Insurance Premiums: Several automotive insurance industries offer discounted premium rates to those carriers and drivers that have ELDs in their vehicles as they improve overall safety and security.
- Driver Training: ELDs can track bad driving behaviours such as rash driving or driving above the mandated speed limit, hard braking, and more. These driving behaviours are not only unsafe, but they also tend to cause accidents, overheating of vehicle parts, and wastage of fuel. By collecting the relevant data from ELD, motor carriers can train their drivers in safer driving techniques. The data can also be used to acknowledge good drivers and provide a motivation to others.
- Liabilities: ELDs and FMS also include dashboard cams that record the travel. In case of accidents, recordings from the dash cam and driving speed data from the ELD can help in establishing liability and can be presented as evidence. As ELD make it mandatory for the driver to stick to the HOS rules, there are lesser chances of fines during a roadside inspection.
- Vehicle Maintenance: Electronic Logging devices are installed within the OBD II/J1939/J1708 port of a vehicle. It collects data regarding the health of various components of the vehicle. Together with a FMS, a routine maintenance schedule for the vehicle can be created as precautionary measures.
ELD makes it easier to operate a fleet with better efficiency. With automated reports, the time spent on manual paperwork and other administrative work can be utilised for better purposes. By increasing fuel and time efficiency, safety and overall work environment, electronic logging devices have the potential to improve ROI.
ELDs have various advantages for every fleet. And there are several kinds of electronic logging systems available in the market. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the requirements of your fleet and the outcome or results you want from an ELD. As the deadline is near, it is important to choose an ELD that perfectly suits your fleet requirements. Changing or updating an ELD service provider once the deadline is over will be extremely difficult and cumbersome.
Here are a few things to consider before choosing an ELD for your fleet:
- One Device for all: A fleet consists of several classes of vehicles – light duty, van, box truck, tractor truck and more. It is always best to choose an electronic logging device that can be used in any kind of vehicle. Opting for different ELDs for vehicles would mean training all the drivers and employees, and would unnecessarily complicate the entire process. Having a universal ELD for all vehicles would save time and allow for easier and organised rotation for drivers.
- Is it economical? You have to think of ELD as an investment and not an expense. In the long run, an electronic logging device can assist you in avoiding fines and form-and-manner violations, help in improving your CSA score, and thus bring you more clients. Also, some of the top notch ELD solutions available in the market can be fairly expensive, ranging between $2,000- $3,000. However, these may include professional installation, advanced hardware and software solutions, and many more features. You can also opt for cheaper versions, but they may not support features and services you need for fleet operation.
- Installation: As the deadline for the grandfathered trucks is nearing, as an AOBRD-using driver or motor carrier, you cannot afford to lose more time. Installation of some of the electronic logging devices can take up a lot of time. However, there are ELDs with plug-and-play features which are absolutely easy to install, and take only a few minutes. These ELDs can be used within minutes of installation.
- User-friendly: One of the reasons of implementing ELDs is to simplify the process of recording data. Therefore, getting an ELD solution that is easy to operate will also mean lesser time spent training the drivers and technicians. A complicated system with too many unrequired features will only lead to difficulty in understanding.
- Compatibility: One of the best methods to reduce cost while implementing ELDs is to search for solutions that are compatible with existing resources. ELDs that can be integrated with available smartphones, tablets, and other similar devices would eliminate the expenses made against acquiring new resources. Also, if an ELD is compatible with the devices already being used by the drivers and other employees, it would be easier for them to operate it.
- Intelligent Solution: There are usually two kinds of ELD solutions available based on when they record data – time based and event based. Time-based electronic logging solutions will record data at intervals, which means that they could miss certain information or data regarding some event that happens during the interval. Event-based solution, however, are wired to record data every time there is a certain change, like acceleration, hard braking, a deviation in predetermined route and location, engine diagnostics, and more. ELD solutions that are event based provide accurate data which can be used in improving fleet operations.
- Responsive: The ELD mandate is fairly new and still being studied. There are chances that it will be edited and updated as and when required. Therefore, choosing a solution that can be upgraded with changing regulations in order to be compliant is important. It will not only be economical in the long run, but also efficient to adapt to required changes.
- Cloud-based solution: Data stored in cloud-based solution can be accessed through any device by authorised user. It also ensures that any crucial information such as Hours of Service data is safely recorded and stored, and will not be lost even if the smartphone or tablet malfunctions. When required to transfer or share the recorded data, no pairing is required thereby eliminating any issue that could arise due to compatibility in devices being used by the sender and receiver. Cloud-based ELD solution can store data whenever a connection is established in areas with lesser or no cellular coverage, thus ensuring that no data is lost.
- Data Security: ELDs record and collect a plethora of data which include driver identification, motor carrier addresses, client information, location and much more. Some of this data is sensitive and therefore must be protected. While selecting an electronic logging device solution it is responsibility of the motor carrier to ensure that the data collected must be completely secured and cannot be misused.
- Customization: Most ELD solutions are made to provide various services. However, it is advisable to choose a solution that can be customised to fit the needs of your fleet and its operations. A comprehensive solution with innumerable features may sound good but it may not be the solution you need. However, you will also need a solution that can be expanded or upgraded in future, if required. It would be best in the interest of your fleet that you choose a service that is flexible, and can adapt and evolve as and when necessary.
Apart from choosing the kind of ELD solution you need, it is also important to select a reliable ELD service provider and vendor. A vendor with good market feedback and reputation, dependable and approachable customer service, and competitive prices will be the best option.
Matrack Incorporation has been in the fleet management and tracking industry for several years, and we have successfully implemented technologically advanced, easy to install ELD and fleet management solutions. The experience thus acquired can be seen in our constantly upgraded hardware and software applications. We offer custom-made solutions that perfectly compliment the needs and requirements of our clients.
At Matrack, we are proud of our relationship with the clients, which is backed by our continued and round the clock quality customer service. If you need our help, we will be there for you. All our solutions are introduced into the market after thorough research and testing. This is why our fleet management and electronic logging device solutions are FMCSA approved and compliant. To learn more about our services and products, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help you!