Most drivers and carriers have heard about the new regulation requiring commercial trucks to have electronic logging devices (ELDs). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) approved the final ELD rule last December, giving most independent owner-operators and trucking fleets two years to comply.
Federal regulators say electronic logs will cut down on driver fatigue by making it nearly impossible to cheat on hours-of-service rules. Many trucking companies and industry groups oppose the rule, calling it an unnecessary financial burden that will force some carriers out of business.
Regardless of the controversy, most over-the-road trucking companies must now install ELDs if they do not already use them. Here are some facts about the ELD mandate that you might have overlooked, but are important to know:
The ELD rule went into effect on February 16, 2016—60 days after the rule was published in the Federal Register. The compliance date for the rule—meaning the date when drivers and carriers must have electronic logs—is Dec. 18, 2017.
Trucking companies that currently use automatic onboard recording devices (AORDs) have two additional years to replace them with ELDs. For those fleets, the compliance date is Dec. 16, 2019.
Exemptions from the Rule
Not every fleet needs to worry about installing e-logs in its truck cabs. The ELD rule does not apply to the following:
- Any commercial trucks that are older than the model year 2000.
- Regional and local carriers that operate within 100 miles of their terminals.
- Drive-away or tow-away businesses that typically transport new or used trucks from factories to dealerships.
To comply with the new rule, an ELD must be able to transfer information one of two ways: through wireless web services and email, or Bluetooth and USB 2.0. Also, ELDs must be able to provide a printout or display of data during a roadside inspection, in the event of poor connectivity.
The FMCSA is allowing ELD makers to decide if they meet the various product specifications that the agency requires. However, some manufacturers may fudge a little bit when self-certifying their products. Before purchasing an ELD, do some research to make sure the device meets the FMCSA’s technological requirements. Just because an ELD is registered with the FMCSA does not mean it is fully compliant with the new rule.
Supporting Documents Still Required
Even though ELDs are meant to move trucking to a paperless system, drivers must still keep some paperwork on hand. The ELD rule requires drivers to keep no more than eight “supporting documents” from a trip for at least eight days. This documentation can include dispatch records, trip records, expense receipts, settlement sheets and other dated materials. The purpose of the documents is to help link a driver and dates to specific trips and on-duty hours.
The new ELD rule includes strong language forbidding carriers from “harassing” their drivers into violating hours-of-service rules. If harassment or the tampering of an ELD’s logs occurs, the carrier could face civil penalties, as well as intervention from other agencies like the Department of Labor.
Under the ELD mandate, carriers must follow the anti-harassment measures before ELDs become required in December 2017.
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Sources: Overdrive, TruckingInfo.com, FMCSA.dot.gov