Beginning on the morning of December 18, 2017, the trucking industry will be forced to embrace the future, like it or not.
That’s because on that day, drivers who used to use paper logs for tracking their time behind the wheel will be required by law to start using electronic logging devices (ELDs) instead.
What is the ELD Rule?
The ELD ruling requires commercial motor vehicle operators to use electronic logging devices to record a driver’s driving time as well as their hours of service (HOS). Typically, these devices will monitor a truck’s engine and show whether the engine is running, whether it’s moving, how many miles were driven, and how long the engine has been on. Prior to this ruling drivers would use paper logbooks to track their hours, but obviously, since it was based solely on human input, there was a possibility that the information entered may not be completely accurate.
This new ruling requires that virtually ALL commercial vehicles maintain ELDs instead of paper logs. It’s estimated that the final rule will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. Electronic logs will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement when it comes to reviewing driver records. On a more important note, it’s also estimated that the new rule will save an average of 26 lives per year and prevent an additional 562 annual injuries.
There are a few exceptions as to who must use ELDs, although anyone may still choose on their own to use electronic logs. Those exceptions include:
- Drivers who use paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period
- Driveaway-towaway drivers (transporting an empty vehicle for sale, lease, or repair)
- Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000
Electronic Monitoring is Not New
Fleet managers began to use electronic logging devices to record hours of service in the mid-1980s. In 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) actually attempted to reform regulations and include the use of electronic devices, but the reform was blocked.
Then in 2010, the FMCSA published a final rule, “Electronic On-Board Recorders for Hours-of-Service Compliance.” It required carriers with significant HOS violations to install EOBRs in their trucks.
There were several back-and-forth legal proceedings with the courts, but after public comment periods and approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the final version of the mandate was released on December 10, 2015.
Obviously, as a manufacturer of fleet tracking devices and software, Synovia Solutions does stand to benefit from the ruling, but so do the trucking companies who have waited until now to attach ELDs to their vehicles.
Benefits of Electronic Monitoring
While ultimately safety is the driving force behind the government’s ruling, since driver fatigue is the leading cause of large truck accidents, there are ancillary benefits of using electronic monitoring of your fleet vehicles that fleet tracking managers can make use of as well.
Once an electronic monitoring device is installed, it’s really up to the fleet manager to decide just how much information he or she wants to collect. Examples of the kinds of information Synovia’s fleet maintenance software collects include:
- Real-time location of the vehicle or asset
- Speed of the vehicle vs. speed limit of the road the vehicle is traveling on
- Hard accelerating and hard stopping
- Whether a particular asset has left a pre-set geo-fenced area
- What route a vehicle took to arrive at a particular location
- The amount of idling time the vehicle experienced
- Whether a vehicle is displaying any maintenance or fault codes
The information collected allows fleet managers to review timesheets and timesheet exceptions, compare planned and actual schedules, pay accurate wages, and avoid any unnecessary overtime. In addition, by allowing drivers to clock in and out while they’re in their vehicle, fleet managers know they’re actually tracking time spent in the vehicle – rather than time drivers aren’t spending driving.
The Sooner You Comply, the Sooner You Benefit
The more you learn about electronic driver logs the more you see that not only are the nation’s highways safer with them out there, but trucking companies will also be able to benefit from their existence. At Synovia we can not only help your company comply with the new regulations, but we can also help you take your fleet tracking to the next level by monitoring vehicle performance in real time to help prevent costly breakdowns, save on fuel costs, and so much more.