It is undeniable that safety has entered everyone’s minds especially when we are talking about road and highway safety. The forefront of commercial freight safety from shipment to the destination is a device that promises to cut accident rates according to the lawmakers. The electronic logging device, or mostly known as ELD, is grabbing our attention in revolutionizing the day to day operations for long-haul commercial freight truckers. The ELD mandate, devised and proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants the regulations in effect and fully functional by December 16, 2019.
That is not to say that the current implementations of recording the trucker’s logs are non-existent by any means. Installed in every freight vehicle are automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) that simply records the Hours of Service (HOS) while attached to the vehicle’s engine. The cry for change from industry experts is because of the limitations that are posed.
Dates To Be Noted
Primarily, ELD’s accuracy of information and status is the reason for the shift. The information displayed is aplenty, from the details of location, duty status, alert notifications, log times, and even, the real-time analysis of the vehicle’s condition. More importantly, the time of duty is tamper-proof as the details are fed to the on-duty dispatcher at the base during the trucker’s assignment. ELD saves a lot of paperwork as the data is instant. With that being said, a timeline was announced by the FMCSA, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), to integrate the ELDs in the commercial vehicles and simultaneously phasing out the AOBRDs within 4 years. Approved by the U.S.
Federal government, the ELD mandate was carried out on February 16, 2015. The date of ELD compliance became law on December 18, 2017, and on December 16, 2019, all vehicles will have a mandatory FMCSA-registered ELD. In due time, AOBRD will be replaced by a next-gen tech, also, the support system will fade away in due time.
What happens to “Grandfather”?
AOBRDs has a short lifeline, if one is purchased before December 18, 2017, the carrier company has until December 16, 2019, to complete the transition to the ELD system. This provision falls under the rule of the “Grandfather clause” which buys some time to adapt to the ELD and the ELD mandate. If there is an occurrence of being new to the freight industry in this present time, it is suggested to get an ELD that has the functions or can operate as an AOBRD. There is no need to get an AOBRD in the beginning and then replace it with an ELD, otherwise, it becomes a financial hassle and a mess. If the existing AOBRD does not fit in with the current requirements of the ELD mandate, a replacement will be the solution to this issue. Some ELD providers can provide a “mesh” of ELD and AOBRD together in the integrated system and some technologies completely scrap the whole AOBRD altogether.
While the ELD devices can considerably be efficient for many fleets, the irony is, the shift to the new phase has been far from smooth. Some veterans of this sector have spoken out but some individuals are open to change. At the end of the day, the goal is to improve the management of drivers effectively. Adapting something unknown will require knowledge, so, making a strategy from AOBRD to ELD is pivotal.
Preparation for Change
Choosing an ELD vendor wisely is highly recommended. It is the difference between poor support and great post-purchase service. Analyze all the available options without rushing into it, including, the vendor’s experience and reputation to providing ample support. Furthermore, check out the client reviews to sort out the pros and cons.
A step by step plan must be drawn up to avoid any issues that cannot be rectified subsequently. That way, preparation will bring out solvable questions which can make the issue streamlined and not bothersome if executed appropriately. Effort should also be enforced in training, in the backroom office, and on the vehicle. Being familiar and comfortable with the technology will have its trials and errors, so, it is imperative that the training gets sorted. Hence, the time provided by the FMCSA before the deadline is the best opportunity to prepare for the new commercial freightage. Moreover, this is the moment to test out many factors that are involved with the ELD, carrier management system, and the current network technology.
If a full-proof plan is not assembled, citations and penalties will creep up with a staggering force as violations will affect any business’s profit margin loss. This might seem a burden to go through, however, it is all for insight. Insights can provide solutions for efficiency. Perfection is far-fetched but lowering road fatalities and injuries are the aims. It is a win-win for both sides of the coin. Reviewing data recorded from the ELD on the dashboard will help in discovering the areas of improvement which can lead to an increased profit margin.
The current technology was never broken but it was missing something. The enacted rule change prevents the incidents when the driver fills up the logs in an old-fashioned way, simply, got “lost”. FMCSA and the DOT have made it clear, compliance of the ELD system is the way of the future. It reveals a lot of questions too as any new piece of technology would do. To an extent, ELD is a 2.0 version of the AOBRD. AOBRD’s support and service will be limited or disappear, making way for the new “king” of the highway. It might record some of the driver’s activities but it cannot automate reports in a blink of an eye and time is everything when it comes to transporting goods.