The ELD Mandate: What We’ve Learned So Far

It has been over six months since the first electronic logging device (ELD) Mandate deadline passed. Since then, the FMCSA has granted new exemptions and guidance, and the hard deadline has been enforced. In a recent webinar, Omnitracs and former FMCSA administrator and CEO of TransSafe Consulting Annette Sandberg joined Heavy Duty Trucking Magazine to discuss what we’ve learned about the mandate so far.

Here are some key highlights that fleets should note.

ELD enforcement challenges

Drivers need to be prepared for roadside enforcement and one of the key things drivers need to understand is whether they have an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) or electronic logging device (ELD) in their vehicle and how to communicate that to enforcement.

For a smooth roadside experience, fleets should ensure that the correct cab cards are in the vehicles and that drivers know to present them to enforcement. The cab card should have the certification of which device (ELD or AOBRD). Drivers can use manual electronic, paper, or PDFs when needed. Help screens from device manufacturers are helpful resources. Fleets should make sure vehicles have blank log books with eight pages in the event that something happens to the device where a driver needs to temporarily use paper logs.

Soft enforcement of the mandate began in December and as of April 1, 2018, full enforcement began. Since that time, there have been a number of ELD enforcement challenges, according to Annette Sandberg. In the webinar, she outlined some of the top challenges: inadequate driver training, inadequate training of enforcement personnel, misunderstandings on the differences between AOBRDs and ELDs, lack of expertise within fleets regarding capability of ELD technology and back-office systems, and bad ELD systems that have “muddied the waters.”

Sandberg discussed other challenges faced by both FMCSA and State investigators. Some of these investigators have had trouble understanding what data is available during a compliance review and how to retrieve it. With far more data now available to investigators since using paper RODs, there has been a learning curve. To complicate matters, many investigators have been reaching out to ELD manufacturers rather than the motor carriers for data and information. Some carriers have forgotten about the supporting documents requirements and are now being cited in compliance reviews.

Technical challenges for ELD manufacturing

Sandberg discussed key issues with ELDs since the rollout, talking in depth about manufacturing challenges. There are currently 209 unique manufacturers registered with the FMCSA and a total of 364 devices registered — all of which have “self-certified” as compliant.

According to Sandberg, not all ELD manufacturers are created equal. Numerous manufacturers had all devices fail and needed time to correct issues — leaving fleets vulnerable to uninformed enforcement personnel. Many manufacturers had had to request multiple extensions from the FMCSA to fix their systems. Carriers and manufacturers are now facing contractual issues related to failures of systems.

There are gaps in the ELD rule and technical specifications. Sandberg discussed the inability to properly capture all necessary data from the engine, which can result in malfunctions. She continued to talk about gaps in data and the way it displays roadside and issues with understanding the FMCSA file transfer. A few operations that were not accounted for in the rule include carriers with multiple DOT numbers and a mix of exempt and non-exempt operations using the same trucks.

Not everything has been a challenge. Sandberg discussed opportunities for fleets and drivers, including better data to maximize driver time, opportunities for freight optimization due to visibility of time and location, and overall better data to ultimately driver Hours of Service (HOS) changes in the future.

What the back-office staff needs to understand to prepare for audits with ELDs implemented

Sandberg advised carriers to be vigilant in monitoring HOS and ELDs. Carriers should:

  • Monitor unassigned drive time
  • Monitor odometer jumps/skips
  • Monitor violations
  • Ensure supporting documents are collected and maintained
  • Carefully monitor roadside violations and challenge violations when it appears that enforcement made an error
  • Ensure knowledge of the system and how to pull reports and data in the event of an on-site audit

Internal audits are also important. The tips I shared during this webinar were as follows:

  • Be prepared to review edits and malfunctions of devices
  • Ensure unassigned driver profiles are identified or assigned
  • If in a transition of conversion to ELD, be able to discuss the status
  • If drivers had paper logs, were they entered?

Stay ahead and understand the grandfather clause

While the deadline for the ELD Mandate grandfather clause seems far away, carriers taking advantage of it need to prepare for the upcoming transition. If carriers implemented an AOBRD on an ELD-capable device prior to December 17, 2017, they can use it until December 16, 2019. They can expand their fleet on AOBRD and repair the AOBRD. No AOBRDs are allowed after December 16, 2019. This is important for carriers to understand.

What is going on since the beginning of 2018?

Since the hard enforcement deadline in April, several ELD violations have been found at roadside. The number one driver violation found, according to Sandberg, is failing to use a registered device. This is for all violations, not just HOS violations. Approximately 346 drivers were placed out of service because of this.

The number two overall driver violation had to do with form and manner violations. Other top violations that Sandberg noted were: no record of duty, false report of RODs, RODs status not current, 30-minute break violations, driving beyond the 14th hour, and failing to preserve the last seven days of logs.

Remember, the hard enforcement date pertains to vehicles any ELD violation including out of service and will incur CSA points. Enforcement is up to the discretion of the states. Over 1200 vehicles were placed out of service for not having an ELD or AOBRD from April 1-27, 2018.

AOBRD migration to ELD

When migrating from AOBRDs to ELDs, there are tips to help both drivers and internal staff with the transition.

Drivers should understand how to use yard moves, get acclimated to the start of drive at 5MPH, editing, and unassigned drive segments as well. They may be logged in for extended periods of time but still log out periodically, and understand where an “exempt driver” can help.

The internal staff should know edits to drivers from the office remain pending until accepted, understand how unassigned moves need to be classified and know how eRODs from the back office will be used for in-house audits. Maintenance needs to know about repairing ELDs in eight days and dispatch training should not be overlooked.

In the webinar, we also covered exemptions, waivers, and guidance. With so much information out there and so many guidelines to adhere to, it’s important for carriers to continuously educate themselves with the latest information.

To learn more, view the on-demand recording from Heavy Duty Trucking here.