The Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s two-year timeline for adoption of the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by the trucking industry received a 90-day extension by the current administration to allow truckers and carriers to ease into the ruling. From December 2017 to April 2018, any truck driver caught without an ELD will be cited but allowed to continue driving, as long as the driver is in compliance with hours-of-service rules.
In December of 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a Final Rule requiring truckers to begin using ELDs rather than paper logs within two years. Once adopted, the automated technology would force truckers to comply with current federal safety regulations limiting them to drive no more than 70 hours a week with an 11-hour driving limit per day followed by 10 consecutive hours off-duty, limitations designed to prevent truck and bus driver fatigue. The FMCSA’s Final Rule also safeguards truck and bus drivers from being coerced by motor carriers to violate federal safety regulations.
After April 2018 Trucks Not ELD Compliant Will Be Taken Out of Service
With the extension, after April 2018 truckers without ELDs will receive out-of-service violations and be forced to stop driving. The ELD Final Rule also states that Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways. However, drivers who use paper logs no more than eight days during any 30-day period will not be required to use ELDs, and drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000 will also be exempt.
ELDs Have the Potential to Save Lives
The FMCSA estimated that, on an annual average basis, the Final Rule would save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles. “This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.”
Carriers Who Comply with ELD Mandate See Positive Benefits
Reducing paperwork, ELDs are a good management tool, making it easier, simpler, and quicker to correctly record location and accurate information to easily track duty status. By October 2017, four in 10 (39 percent) of carriers and owner-operators said they planned to comply with the mandate before the deadline, and another 9 percent already had. Others were taking a “wait and see” approach, believing the deadline might be suspended.
FMCSA Helps ELD Manufacturers with Specifications and Registration
Manufacturers of ELDs were given guidelines and specifications for their devices, and were required to self-certify that they meet the technical specifications set forth in the ELD rule. An ELD can include portable ELDs and mobile devices, so long they fully meet the technical specifications and are certified and registered with the FMCSA. Even with only 30 or 40 percent of carriers and owner-operators committed to compliance, ELD manufacturers still reported strong sales to fleets with 20 to 200 trucks.
Less Chance for Error and Falsification with ELDs
An ELD, connected to a vehicle’s engine, automatically records driving time. It monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. Unlike with paper logs, there is less chance for error or falsification. Even though ELDs increase efficiency, large carriers that already have complied with the mandate have seen productivity drop 4 percent to 6 percent. It is estimated that the drop could be even higher for other carriers, since those first to adopt ELDs were “good” carriers that didn’t have a high percentage of false paper logs previously.
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