It’s been about one year since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mandatory use of electronic logging devices (ELD) for commercial vehicles went into effect on Dec. 18, 2017.  In its initial year the rollout has seen some benefits, as well as some confusion and questions from fleet operations and drivers.

Take a look below at some facts, questions and concerns that have been recorded over the first year of the mandatory ELD rollout.

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate is a U.S. federal regulation that requires operators for commercial motor vehicles to use ELDs. These devices record the amount of hours a vehicle has been in-service, or its driving hours, by monitoring the vehicle’s engine.

Truck driver, driver

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

How Does the ELD Mandate Work with the HOS Law?

The ELD Mandate will help enforce the Hours of Service law. The HOS law states that drivers are limited to driving a maximum of 11 hours in a consecutive on-duty window of 14 hours, and must take a 30-minute break during the 14-hour window. They then must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty.

The goal of HOS is to prevent drivers from becoming too tired while driving, which is aimed at reducing the amount of fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles.

While HOS is an existing law, partnering it with the ELD makes it easier to enforce. Before ELDs, drivers manually tracked their driving hours. This left room for error and the opportunity to enter false information so drivers could finish their routes. With ELDs, the information is automatically recorded.

Phases of the ELD Mandate

The rule was initially announced in Dec. 2015, but companies and drivers were given a transition period through Phase 1 of the rollout, allowing them to voluntarily use ELDs through Dec. 2017. During this time drivers could use paper logs or logging software for their Records of Duty Status (RODS).

Phase 2 began last December and goes through Dec. 2019. During this period drivers are only allowed to use AOBRDS that were installed before Dec. 18, 2017, or self-certified and registered ELDs with FMCSA.

Phase 3, the final period, begins Dec. 16, 2019. During this phase all drivers and carriers must use self-certified ELDs that are registered with FMCSA.

fleet driver

What Does this Mean for Drivers?

The rollout of Phase 2 of the ELD mandate has caused some confusion and frustration for drivers. One of the biggest issues has come at the shipping docks.

Under the HOS law, drivers can only operate a vehicle for 11 hours in a consecutive 14-hour time period. This is problematic if drivers run into long waits at docks. According to Business Insider, 6 percent of drivers say they wait at least three hours every time they are at the shipping dock. That’s three hours of their allotted operating time they are stalled at the dock and not on the road. For drivers who are paid by the mile and not by the hour, they’re losing money due to the time limits.

Using ELDs has also forced drivers to learn new technology. Abe Dunivin, the technical service coordinator with the motor carrier division of the Oregon Dept. of Transportation, told FleetOwner.com adaptation of ELDs has varied by generation – for both drivers and inspectors.

“The younger generation is picking up on it pretty quickly,” Dunivin told FleetOwner.com. “Drivers who have been using it a while …seem to love (ELDs). I have not come across one who has had one for a while who says they don’t like it. It is the unknown (of ELDs) in this other population of people. They are not as tech savvy.”

What is the Personal Conveyance Rule?

At the Great American Trucking Show in August, Joe DeLorenzo – the director of the office of enforcement and compliance for FMCSA – tried to clarify some confusion surrounding the Personal Conveyance rule, FreightWaves.com reported.

As part of the ELD mandate, the Personal Conveyance rule states drivers can operate a commercial motor vehicle in an off-duty status if they are using the vehicle for a personal reason. This can include driving to get lunch or dinner, stopping to visit a friend or relative, or other personal errands. However, it doesn’t include the time driving home after delivering a load.

DeLorenzo said the FMCSA considers a load’s round trip to include “the original location or to the next location for a pickup …. Going home is considered part of the return trip,” according to FreightWaves.com. This means the driver has to account for the time to travel home within his time limits for the day.

Trucks, Rest Stop, Truck Stop

Photo Courtesy of PIxabay.com

How Does this Change Processes and Workflows for Fleet Operations?

Having to help drivers follow the ELD mandate has required fleet operations to adjust, too. According to FleetOwner.com, Tim Rhoades, the manager of Becker Trucking’s Portland terminal, said he’s been making changes as needed.

Rhoades told FleetOwner.com that in situations where a driver has run into traffic or unloading delays that “Becker has sent out a second truck with two drivers in order to legally bring that driver and vehicle home.”

Making changes like that can be challenging for fleet operations, as using more vehicles and more drivers can add to labor and fuel costs. It can also pose a challenge for operations with limited staffs and resources.

Who is Exempt from the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate has caused some confusion over the past year on who is exempt from it. According to FMCSA, the following drivers are exempt:

  • “Drivers who are required to keep RODS not more than 8 days within any 30-day period.”
  • “Drivers conducting a drive-away-tow-away operation, (an operation in which an empty or unladen motor vehicle with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway is being transported) if the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or if the vehicle being transported is a motorhome or recreational vehicle trailer.”
  • “Drivers of vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000.”

DeLorenzo told attendees at the Great American Trucking Show there are also exemptions for agriculture vehicles and drivers. According to FreightWaves.com, “drivers operating within 150 air miles of the source for ag commodities are exempt.” This is because since the HOS don’t begin until the driver leaves that radius, the ELD rule would also not begin until then.