The full-compliance deadline for motor carriers and drivers to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) in their vehicles on or before Dec. 16, 2019 is fast approaching.
The rule covers motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to maintain records of duty status. It applies to commercial buses as well as trucks, and to Canada and Mexico-domiciled drivers.
To maintain records of duty status, many fleets and drivers have been using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs), but those will have to be phased out in favor of the more advanced ELDs.
While the two are similar, ELDs are more accurate and have more potential to be integrated into other fleet management solutions.
AOBRDs were designed to meet regulations established in the 1980s. They can track a driver’s duty status information to comply with hours-of-service rules by recording engine use, speed, miles driven and dates/times by using a physical connection to the engine. The simple technology is limited, and it can easily be tampered with and supervisors can change a driver’s logs without the latter’s approval.
But, the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require more data to be captured, and hence the requirement that most motor carriers install the more hi-tech ELDs.
An ELD documents a driver’s driving time and speed to ensure compliance with hours-of-service rules, but it measures much more than that.
It has integral synchronization into a vehicle’s diagnostic port to record vehicle motion activity, engine hours, power status, vehicle motion status and location, making it more accurate and harder to tamper with.
The devices require drivers to approve their electronic logs and make alterations and annotations if there are errors or a need for clarification. Additionally, drivers must approve any changes made by supervisors or other back-office personnel.
The deadline is nearing
The ELD rule has had a long implementation timeline to give carriers and drivers ample time to comply. Implementation is being handled in three phases:
Phase 1: Awareness and transition
During this time (Feb. 16, 2016 to Dec. 17, 2017), carriers and driver subject to the rule could prepare to comply and voluntarily use ELDs.
Phase 2: Phased-in compliance
During this period (Dec. 18, 2017 to Dec. 15, 2019), it is recommended, but not required, that carriers and drivers use two methods of tracking.
Phase 3: Full compliance
Starting Dec. 16, 2019, all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use self-certified ELDs that are registered with the FMCSA.
Exceptions to the ELD mandate:
- Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.
- Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards.
- Drivers who use paper records of duty status for not more than eight days out of every 30-day period.
- Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.