Although the date of compliance for the ELD mandate issued by the Department of Transportation will not come until the end of 2017, this almost-halfway point between the mandate’s date of issue and the date of compliance is a valuable one for your fleet. And, whether you are fully invested in this electronic transition or if you plan to go into it kicking and screaming, now is the time to prepare or the switch.

We personally recommend against the kicking and screaming approach, particularly since your embrace of this change would produce a number of benefits for both you and your drivers. You will be able to take advantage of all the features that Electronic Driver Logs (ELD) systems are able to offer a fleet.

As you either begin or continue this transition, there are a number of helpful things to keep in mind. There is no need to sacrifice efficiency in order to begin making the change. With that in mind, what should you keep in mind as your fleet makes the switch to ELDs?

Tech and Specs: Are You Prepared?

If you are working with an ELD provider, or if you already have a system in place, you should still test your fleet for compliance with the mandate’s specific technical specifications. If you already have ELDs in your fleet, then there is a good chance that you already meet the specifications, especially since compliance is made much easier if your fleet management system consists solely of ELDs.

For reference, this part of the mandate provides a brief overview of what the ELDs need to be able to do. Additionally, there are a few exceptions to the DOT mandate that are fairly notable, including an exception to older vehicles and those who already do not use written data that much. As will be discussed further, this mandate is primarily to increase efficiency on a large scale. Ideally, it will ensure that fleet managers feel empowered to make the switch to electronic logs.

This is also the time to begin asking questions! Contacting an ELD provider and asking questions can be the best way to see how ELDs will work in your specific fleet. Though it is important that you are asking the key questions, how should you begin to field questions from your employees who have concerns about the transition?

Preparing Your Drivers

This might be one of the biggest things you need to consider going forward, especially if you are resistant to telematics-based solutions in general. Many drivers are accustomed to doing things a certain way, especially if you are working with experienced drivers who may be attached to paper logs.

There are a number of things you can do to prepare and train your drivers for ELDs, even well before they are installed. The best thing you can do, in the most general sense, is to ensure that the drivers have control over this change and feel a sense of ownership of this process.

How can you do this?

  1. Make sure they know ELDs are for their benefit. They are meant to make their lives easier and make them more efficient in the long run. A huge portion of the mandate involves protections against driver harassment as a result of ELD installations. FMCSA does not want drivers to feel like there is a huge amount at stake for them once ELDs are installed, especially since the primary function of the devices is to simply manage data electronically and automatically.
  2. Make sure they know they have control over the functioning of ELDs. For example, drivers still have full access to their logs and are able to edit them as needed, and ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the data is still largely the driver’s responsibility. (133) The devices also possess many features that are totally optional for the driver, and the driver is also able to mute notifications at will. In essence, the ELDs serve a specific function, and anything outside that function is entirely within the driver’s control.
  3. If you haven’t already, start preparing training now! Since your drivers have this control over their devices, you are not the only one who will need to become proficient in their usage. It is essential that they not only have technical proficiency over the devices, but that they understand why it is being implemented and the benefits it has to offer them.

Use Your Resources

This article goes over how to respond to the resistance of telematics systems in general, and training yourself to be prepared for any questions or challenges that may come your way is particularly important in this crucial development stage. The emphasis on anti-harassment systems are of particular note since drivers’ fear of being monitored or scrutinized by their practices is one of the most common concerns. Your drivers know the potential horror stories that arise when you mix overbearing management with electronic logging or tracking systems, and you should be able to assuage their fears by using the sizable anti-harassment focus of the mandate to your advantage.

Other than merely getting excited about the savings this mandate brings, you should primarily be working with ELD providers, learning about what compliance will mean for you, and be working on developing your employees in such a way that they will see the same benefits to the system as you do.

Talking to a real, live human who can think about your specific fleet is hugely important, and you can always contact GPS Trackit here. These resources can help you prepare yourself without losing any time or money in the process!