With the new electronic logging device (ELD) mandate having just been signed into law, the word that’s on the lips of everyone in the trucking industry is compliance. The ELD mandate affects the daily operations of truckers and motor carriers, not to mention the manufacturers that build the ELDs which these companies use in their commercial vehicles each day. Each role has ELD compliance guidelines associated with it, and everyone has the responsibility of understanding what is required for them to stay on the right side of the law. This article discusses some of the guidelines for compliance from the perspective of truck drivers and motor carriers, and will help ensure that you’re doing things right when it comes to the new ELD mandate.
Compliance Guidelines for Motor Carriers
Motor carriers bear the brunt of the burden when it comes to compliance with the new ELD mandate, mostly because they will be purchasing the needed equipment and implementing the systems required to support it. Here are some important steps for motor carriers to follow when working towards compliance with the new mandate:
- Understand the requirements of the new ELD rule and identify whether any exemptions might apply to you and your business. Identify the timeline for compliance with the new mandate to ensure that appropriate policies are implemented in a timely fashion.
- Evaluate and select a manufacturer to provide your business with ELD compliance. The website for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration supplies a list of certified ELD providers who meet the legal requirements for ELDs in the United States. Your chosen manufacturer must appear on this list and be certified as compliant.
- Develop processes and training for drivers, administrative staff and anyone else in your organization that is affected by the new ELD rule. You’ll need to implement systems that enable drivers to submit the appropriate documentation, ways to retain those documents, processes for troubleshooting and repairing malfunctioning devices and guidelines for operating the devices themselves.
- Create user accounts for drivers, administrative staff, supervisors and other users. You may have to provide training for your staff on how to properly use ELDs for hours-of-service (HOS) reporting, as well as how to follow the many processes you’ll need to support their usage.
- Supply drivers with the appropriate documentation to keep in their vehicles. Each driver requires an ELD user manual, an instruction sheet for transferring HOS records to safety officials, instructions on reporting ELD malfunctions and how to keep records in the event of a malfunction and an 8-day supply of paper tracking forms in case a malfunction occurs.
- Implement storage infrastructure to properly maintain ELD records and supporting documents. Carriers can maintain up to 8 documents per day for each driver, and must store these documents along with ELD data for at least 6 months. Data must be backed up and securely stored to protect driver privacy.
- Understand and remain compliant with guidelines for harassment and coercion. It is unlawful to use information from an ELD to pressure a driver into taking action that results in a HOS violation, or to drive when fatigued or ill.
Compliance Guidelines for Truck Drivers
ELD compliance for truck drivers is slightly more streamlined, and you’ll notice some overlap (shared responsibilities) with the guidelines for motor carriers.
- Determine whether you qualify for an ELD exemption and understand the timeline for compliance so you can plan accordingly with your motor carrier.
- Understand how the ELD mandate protects you from harassment and coercion. Your carrier may not harass, pressure, or threaten you into violating HOS requirements using information gleaned from your ELD compliance reporting. Any attempt to do so must be reported to the National Consumer Complaint Database within 90 days.
- Learn the ins and outs of your ELD – you should be able to log in, respond to unassigned driving hours, record duty status changes, edit records, add notes to records, certify records as complete and accurate, access your records of service (RODS) data, review and understand ELD printouts and display information, transfer ELD data to inspectors or law enforcement by email or Bluetooth, report ELD malfunctions and identify and correct or report data diagnostic issues.
- Load up your vehicle with the required supporting documentation—a user manual for your ELD, an instruction sheet for transferring data to safety officials, instructions on how to keep paper logs in case of a malfunction and an 8-day supply of paper logs in case one occurs.
- Submit all supporting documents generated through your ELD to your motor carrier within 13 business days of the document being generated.
The new ELD mandate requires adaptation on both sides—by the motor carrier and by drivers themselves. Although the drivers will use the devices daily, carriers must create the processes and infrastructure to support the transmission and storage of data in accordance with the new mandate. The intricacies of these tasks are the reason that the FMCSA has allowed a lengthy window of time during which motor carriers and truckers can work to become compliant with the new mandate. With these new adaptations, the ELD mandate promises to streamline HOS reporting for drivers, save time and money, and improve safety on our roads.