In a continued effort to increase safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began implementing the first phase of the electronic logging device (ELD) rule on December 16, 2015. The ELD rule is designed to create a safer work environment for drivers and make it easier to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS). According to Donlen’s regulatory compliance manager, Laura Hopewell, an ELD is electronic hardware that connects to fleet vehicle engines in order to track the consecutive number of hours a vehicle has been driven. ELDs will also make that information more accessible to drivers and motor carriers so that drivers can better manage fatigue, schedule issues, rest periods, document stops for load inspection, fuel stops, and other details that previously were not always properly recorded.
“The ELD regulation has been in in the works for years,” said Hopewell. “The idea behind it is to increase on-the-road safety for all automobiles by ensuring that hours-of-service (HOS) logs are always maintained accurately. ELDs support the FMCSA initiative for safer roads for the motoring public.”
Prior to the introduction of ELDs, drivers' hours of service were, for the most part, manually recorded in either a paper logbook or sometimes uploaded electronically via logging software. According to Hopewell, the electronic logging of HOS is intended to bring greater exposure to drivers who are operating the vehicle beyond the HOS regulations. The ELD device will automatically move the driver status from "driving" to "on-duty not driving." This will assist in eliminating the numerous form and manner violations companies experience because a driver missed a notation on the ROD, such as fuel stops, date, time, changes in the duty status line, manifest number, and drop points to name a few.
“Electronic logging devices have made the process much simpler for the driver and much more transparent to whoever is reviewing those logs," said Hopewell. "Now, they can clearly see how long the driver has been driving, how long the driver has been off-duty, and, at the end of each day, the driver and the company will know how many hours the driver has available for the day and for the remainder of the work week. For long haul operations, the ‘reset’ time will be recorded automatically, which eliminates the need for RODs to list drivers as off-duty.”
According to the FMCSA, the rule primarily requires most motor carriers and drivers who must log their hours of service to use ELDs. It also applies to commercial buses as well as trucks, and to Canada and Mexico-domiciled drivers who also operate in the U.S. Additionally, it sets the standard for performance and design of ELDs as well as requires the ELDs to be certified and registered with FMCSA.
Timing for the electronic logging device rule
According to the FMCSA website, carriers and drivers subject to the rule will still be allowed to use paper logs, logging software, automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs), and ELDs that are certified and registered on the FMCSA website from the start of Phase 1 on December 16, 2015, to the start of Phase 2 on December 18, 2017. However, Phase 2 will only allow carriers and drivers to use AOBRDs that were installed before December 18, 2017, and ELDs that are certified and registered with the FMCSA. December 16, 2019, marks the end of the four-year implementation timeline and the beginning of Phase 3, or the full compliance phase. At this point, carriers and drivers subject to the rule must only be using ELDs that are certified and registered with the FMCSA.
Exemptions to the rule
Some drivers will be exempt from the ELD rule. These include drivers who use paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period, tow truck drivers who transport empty vehicles for sale, lease, or repair, and drivers of vehicles manufactured before the year 2000.
The impact for fleets
With the December 18 deadline quickly approaching, fleet managers are responsible for developing an ELD implementation plan for their commercial motor vehicles. Fleets must ensure that their drivers and administrative staff are trained and capable of using ELDs by the deadline. Driver training will include learning how to display and transfer data to safety officials when requested, annotate and edit RODS, certify RODS, and collect required supporting documents.
The Donlen solution
Some fleet professionals may be worried at the thought of such an undertaking. After all, updating every vehicle in your fleet with a certified and registered ELD is no small feat. That’s true whether you have 100 fleet vehicles or 1,000. Fortunately for our customers, Donlen has partnered with J. J. Keller to offer a solution that will assist fleet managers and professionals in meeting the requirements of this regulation.
“Donlen has partnered with J. J. Keller because they are the top name in the industry for hours-of-service compliance. Together we’re integrating their hours of service data from their electronic logging device into Donlen’s DriverPoint® Telematics technology. This provides enhanced visibility and real-time access to HOS logs to ensure consistent compliance with FMCSA regulations,” said Brad Kacsh, director of licensing services at Donlen. “Fleets that are looking to adopt ELDs should contact us as early as possible. We can help them get started on the ELD transition and ensure that all of their vehicles are fully compliant.”
By partnering with J. J. Keller, Donlen is able to provide an ELD solution that is not only fully compliant, but simple and flexible for fleets, with ELDs that install in less than 10 minutes and are compatible with all vehicle classes (1-8).
“We explored other solutions, but found that J. J. Keller offers the most reliable, user-friendly solution with the best customer support and training,” said Kacsh.
Donlen’s ELD solution is compatible with most Android™ devices as well as iPhone® and iPad® smart devices, allowing drivers to track duty status, monitor hours available, access state and industry rule sets, receive alerts of impending hours of service violations, and run electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (EDVIRs). Additionally, the solution is backed by significant fleet and customer service support resources.
The FMCSA has provided ample time to implement the rule, however fleets should start making the switch to ELDs sooner rather than later. Donlen is now offering a comprehensive solution that is both compliant and can be customized to meet the needs of each specific fleet. We know that every fleets' needs are completely unique, which is why we offer custom-tailored solutions for each of our customers. Fleet professionals can rest easy knowing that Donlen will keep them updated on any changes or pertinent information regarding the ELD rule and the implementation timeline. To learn more about the ELD rule, click here.