Whenever we run into someone who is frustrated by the ELD mandate, it's helpful to think about the history of logging hours.

Back in 1938, commercial drivers were first required to record their daily hours of duty using a paper log and pencil. Fast forward through WWII, the dawn of computers, landing on the moon, and the dominance of smartphones, and yet somehow drivers are still using paper and pencil.

As everyone in trucking knows, paper logs are hard to maintain and almost impossible to verify. 

ELD Mandate Fast Facts:

  • FMCSA rule goes into effect February 6, 2016.
  • All commercial trucks and buses must be using ELD’s within 24 months: February 6, 2018.
  • An ELD must be able to replace current paper logs, including all the exceptions that could be included in a paper log.

The ELD Mandate Arrives

So on December the 12th 2015 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adopted a Final Rule to mandate electronic logs (electronic logging devices, or ELDs). The goal is to improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthens compliance with hours-of-service regulations. 

The rule will go into effect on February 6, 2016 which is 60 days following the publication of the Federal Register. All commercial trucks and buses must be using ELD’s within 24 months of this new Federal announcement. It does make you wonder which will happen first: autonomous trucks on the road or the ELD mandate actually getting through the sausage factory that is federal rule making?

The FMCSA estimates the trucking industry will save more than $1 billion annually, largely by reducing the amount of paperwork required by commercial drivers. It is also estimated that ELD’s will annually prevent 26 fatalities and 562 injuries caused by fatigue related crashes.

ELD’s will also eliminate any guesswork for the driver by accurately keeping a record of their hours used and hours available to work. (Article about what constitutes an ELD from CCJ.) Drivers who have already transitioned over to ELDs report that they can save as much as 15 minutes per day over with the amount of time they would need to complete a paper log.

ELD’s can also help streamline company record-keeping by reducing the number of hours that staff would need to manage and maintain driver hours of service records. 

ELD Mandate Deadline

Now that this new rule has been published this means by early 2018 all commercial trucks and buses that must comply with the HOS regulations must be using electronic logging devices. These devices can range from Automated On Board Recording Devices (AOBRD) to handheld devices or smart phone apps as long as they comply with the FMCSA standards.

How Will Your Fleet Adapt to the ELD Mandate?

Adapting to this change and learning how to use this new technology will be an important theme for training over the coming months. Because ELD’s will be part of regulatory compliance, carriers will be responsible for training drivers on their chosen company device.

Although the Hours of Service rules themselves are not changing, drivers need to be trained on how to change their duty status, what to do at a roadside inspection or how to see how many hours they have available to work and all the other items that they would do on a paper log today. ELD’s will save time and make drivers more productive, but only if they are training to use this technology.

You would not expect someone from the 1930’s when everything was done with pen and paper to feel comfortable working in an office today where almost everything we do today is done with computer. The industry is being dragged, kicking and screaming into the 21st century and hoping that your drivers will pick this technology without any help is a mistake.

For more information on the Electronic Logging Device mandate visit the FMCSA site.

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