ELD provider explains myths related to upcoming mandate for the trucking industry

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 124 views 

Carriers and drivers, not the providers of electronic logging devices (ELD), are required to make sure their ELDs are compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said Kelly Frey, vice president of product marketing for Verizon Telematics.

Even if a provider is listed on the federal agency’s website, it doesn’t mean their ELD is compliant, Frey said. The FMCSA hasn’t tested any of the devices of the providers listed on its website.

Frey spoke July 27 about myths and facts related to ELDs in a conference call hosted by Transport Topics, a publication of trade organization American Trucking Associations.

“There still is a lot of misinformation out there,” he said.

Starting Dec. 18, drivers who track hours of service with paper logs will be required to use an ELD to track them. Some exemptions to the rule include short-haul drivers, those who track hours-of-service logs less than eight days in a month and drivers of trucks older than model year 2000. However, fleets with less than 10 trucks must abide by the mandate.

“It doesn’t matter on fleet size,” he said. “I wouldn’t hedge my bets. You might find yourself out in the cold.”

Fleets that use automatic onboard recording devices (ABORD) have until Dec. 16, 2019, to become complaint with the ELD mandate, Frey said. If the automatic onboard recording device needs to be replaced before the extended deadline, it must be replaced with an ELD. However, if a fleet is replacing trucks but keeping the ABORDs, the extended deadline still applies.

Frey said carriers and drivers, who must comply with the mandate in December, shouldn’t wait until November to start shopping for an ELD. Those who wait likely won’t be able to get an installer on time. Setting up a fleet of 15 trucks on ELDs might take days, but if the carrier has trucks all over the United States, it might take weeks.

A myth about ELDs is that if the FMCSA deemed an ELD non-compliant that providers will replace it. Frey said drivers and carriers have eight days to replace a non-compliant ELD, and drivers must keep paper logs during that time. A non-compliant ELD might lead to drivers being put out of service, and they could also face a fine or penalty, Frey said.

When selecting a provider, choose one that’s a larger company, that will be in business for a long time, invests into research and development, provides 24-hour support and offers the ability to bundle services, Frey said. The most important aspect of an ELD is its ease of use. A compliant ELD must be able to transfer data wirelessly or through USB 2.0 and Bluetooth.

“Don’t just go with the cheapest model,” he said.

He recommended using a provider allowing carriers and drivers to bundle services in order to cut costs, including labor, fuel and maintenance. A bundled service might offer an app allowing a fleet manager to use a smartphone to see where their drivers are at or software updates. Another bundling benefit might include the ability for carriers to view a driver’s current log status, allowing them to alert their drivers if they are about to run over on their time.

Fleetmatics, which is a Verizon company that offers ELDs, has yet to be listed on the FMCSA as a certified ELD provider because it’s awaiting more information. The concern is if an ELD is deemed non-compliant, what’s the process to get it certified again, he said.

While some U.S. legislators recently asked to delay implementation of the ELD mandate, analysts and Frey believe the ELD mandate will go into effect as planned. And, the American Trucking Associations opposes the effort to delay the ELD mandate.

“The industry stands ready and is prepared to implement ELDs,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president of advocacy.

On July 18, House Republican Brian Babin of Texas introduced a bill to delay the ELD mandate by two years, a move that was supported by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). But trucking/transportation analyst Brad Delco of Stephens said he doesn’t expect “these anti-ELD bills to get much traction in the Senate.”

On Monday (July 31), Delco noted the Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2018 spending bill for the Department of Transportation didn’t include any changes to existing trucking regulations.

“We find this news to be encouraging as we believe investors had some fears that the Senate might include trucking regulation reforms around the ELD mandate implementation,” he said.

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