Meet new standards & use technology to drive safety & productivity
by Jeffrey Cohen
May 18, 2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed a new rule in December 2015 regarding the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) in commercial motor vehicles in which drivers are mandated to record their hours of service (HOS). The construction industry is currently in the "awareness and transition phase" of the new rule. It becomes mandatory December 18, 2017. Vehicles that currently use an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) have until December 16, 2018, to meet the new standard.

Although you have ample time to reach compliance, there may be significant advantages to jumping into the new technology sooner rather than later. Why were these new rules put into place? One reason is to protect drivers against fatigue and employers that might try to work around HOS regulations to keep them on the road even when they have surpassed their allotted hours. The FMCSA reports that the new ELD rule will annually help the following:

  • Avoid 1,844 crashes
  • Prevent 562 injuries
  • Save 26 lives

In addition to the obvious human toll, the new rule will conceivably save billions of dollars in liability, vehicle replacement and lost productivity—not to mention the countless hours and dollars saved from old recordkeeping practices. How can companies become compliant? What options are available, and is this an opportunity to implement a comprehensive mobile enterprise management (MEM) solution? In this article, you will learn how to implement new ELD technology and how fleets can achieve greater job safety, productivity and compliance with the technology.

How the New Rule Applies

The new ELD rule applies to all interstate commercial motor vehicles currently required to fill out record-of-duty status (RODS) or log books and all commercial motor vehicles as defined by 49 CFR 390.5. There are a few exemptions as detailed by the FMCSA:

  • 100 air-mile radius drivers
  • 150 air-mile radius, non-CDL freight drivers
  • Drivers that use paper RODS for no more than 8 days during any 30-day period
  • Drivers that conduct "drive away-tow away" operations
  • Vehicles older than model year 2000

Acceptable/approved devices

Each device manufacturer will be required to perform the certification to FMCSA standards and prove that their technology meets the necessary requirements. Businesses will want to research each possible solution and investigate both how it works for the drivers in the field and how it works for back-office personnel who will interact with the data. There are a few key requirements for each solution:

  • The device must be capable of a direct connection to the vehicle's engine in order to capture all of the movement of a commercial motor vehicle. This includes interface capabilities where the driver can indicate times when they have gone off duty.
  • The display must be mounted and secured in the truck when it is moving; it cannot be sliding across the dashboard. It also must be available for law enforcement outside the cab of the truck. This requires the display to be handed outside of the truck so the officers can see it without entering the cab. Consider an HOS compliance application for a mounted iPad that could easily be handed to an officer.
  • The display must feature the driver's name, an ELD username, if applicable, the carrier's/company's name and address, total engine hours and if there is any kind of an ELD malfunction. It also has to show a grid/graph of total hours and locations.
  • The device must be able to electronically transfer HOS data to law enforcement officers in one of two ways: either "locally," through Bluetooth or a USB, or electronically via a web-based interface or email.
  • The device must be tamper-proof. This prevents the driver from editing their time or deleting their original record, which helps ensure accuracy and that drivers or companies aren't trying to shirk compliance.
  • The data must also be encrypted to ensure that all persons accessing the data have the clearance to do so.

Getting ELD to Work for You

To understand the true benefits of an ELD, it's important to look past the HOS compliance issues that are creating the new demand and understand the greater benefits of increased safety and efficiency made possible by this technology.

Many of the same systems that power the ELD technology are capable of supporting advanced telematics, route optimization, compliance applications, real-time work order management, coaching apps for drivers, commercial navigation and more. When combined, these services create a platform that cuts away at the bottom line and helps improve overall customer service time.

They also help identify unsafe driving behavior. Depending on the solution, an ELD and its related systems can achieve a positive return on investment within a few months of installation.

Technology providers are working to make ELD solutions as simple as possible to implement and simple for the driver to interact with the technology. In some cases, the necessary ELD hardware can be pre-installed in new vehicles, helping to lower new hardware costs associated with compliance. And some of this may all be possible with devices with which drivers and fleet owners are already familiar. The FMCSA hasn\'92t dictated what kind or size of display has to be in the vehicle—it could be a smartphone, tablet or some other device that is created specifically for an ELD.

The ELD mandate Simplified

The latest compliance changes might feel complicated, but switching to an ELD-compliant solution integrated with a comprehensive MEM platform that incorporates advanced telematics, real-time work order management, gamification apps for drivers, commercial navigation, routing software and other solutions can offer major safety and productivity benefits.

While compliance will force change for the modern mobile enterprise, a growing number of operators are making the new rules work for them by getting in first. Technology can help construction companies achieve compliance and implement cost-saving changes.

To learn more information about the ELD mandate and what is required for your business to become compliant, get more information the FMCSA website at http://fmcsa.dot.gov.

Did you know?

Businesses that have rolled out MEM solutions reported:\

  • 12 percent reduction in crashes
  • Fewer speeding & harsh braking incidents
  • 25 percent savings in fuel costs
  • 30 percent reduction in idling