FMCSA director stresses the importance of planning ahead of impending ELD mandate

PHOENIX, Az. – With the US’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate set to come into effect this December, being prepared, knowledgeable and compliance with hours-of-service are what carriers should be focusing on now.

This was the message from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) director Joe DeLorenzo during his address at Omnitracs Outlook 2017, who gave an overview of what to expect in the next eight months leading up to the new ELD rule.

DeLorenzo said the number one issue he would like to relay to those in attendance to ensure the transition to ELDs goes smoothly was to plan accordingly and avoid the human tendency to procrastinate.

“If you’re a driver who fills out a log book, then you need an ELD,” DeLorenzo said, adding that one of the biggest mistakes people make is to take a new rule like the ELD mandate for granted until it sneaks up and bites you.

In addition to the mandatory use of an ELD, the major components of the rule include minimum performance and design standards of the device, measures to prevent harassment and requirements for HOS supporting documents.

DeLorenzo said ensuring driver are compliant with their HOS would be the key focus moving forward.

“Make sure your driver knows what they have and knows how to use it,” DeLorenzo said of the use of ELDs and what will make the process easier when a driver is inspected by an enforcement officer. “The more a driver knows, the easier it is for the law enforcement officer.”

Of the possible exemptions to the ELD rule, the one that concerned DeLorenzo the most was for ‘those using paper records of duty status (RODS) for not more than eight days during any 30-day period.’

DeLorenzo said the last thing he wanted to happen is to have a driver be asked to do a job on day seven and realize that they must now start using an ELD for their HOS and risk not being in compliance with the use of a paper log.

Data transfer was another issue DeLorenzo discussed.

In addition to electronic transfer via email and web services, when a driver must produce their RODS to an enforcement officer roadside, the driver can do so in one of two ways: a printout or by direct screen display.

Electronic data transfer can also be done via USB or Bluetooth. The data transferred to the officer is filtered through eRODS to be analyzed, which is intended to shorten the inspection process, and violations identified are manually confirmed by the safety official.

If no violations are detected, the data transferred to the officer is then deleted. Only when a violation is confirmed is the data retained for supporting documents.

Some technical aspects of the ELD mandate are that dates and times must be automatically obtained without external input, the speed threshold must not exceed 5 mph, vehicle location must be no less than one mile accuracy when on duty and 10 miles when operating under personal conveyance and upon powering up the truck, the ELD must monito engine hours and vehicle miles.

“The key to this whole thing is going to be ‘how are we all communicating,’” DeLorenzo said.

Coming down the pike

Another piece of regulation coming to the US transportation industry is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

The legislation is not set to see implementation until 2020, but DeLorenzo wanted to bring the matter to the attention of Outlook 2017 attendees.

The mandate would create a database that would essentially act as a driver background check for carriers, indicating whether the driver has any previous incidents involving drugs or alcohol and whether they went through the mandatory return-to-duty drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation process.

This was something DeLorenzo said is currently not available and would help carrier better determine which drivers they wanted to bring on board.

The Clearinghouse would have a reporting and querying requirement, with employers, consortia/third party administrators and medical review officers reporting on drug and alcohol violations and substance abuse professionals reporting on the rehabilitation process.

Employers will be required to query the Clearinghouse for two purposes: pre-employment screening and annual verification.

There will be no cost to the driver data being entered into the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but there will be a fee for carriers; the amount is yet to be determined.

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • This ELD mandate is going to put small trucking companies out of business. The government already over regulates this industry. I call for all independents to call Trump and their Congress people and raise hell. If that doesn’t work maybe we should blockade DC. I’m tired of the FMCSA bs.

  • What ever happened to “Grandfather Clause”. When the CDL license was emplimented those of us with experience were exempt. Now all of a sudden life will end unless we conform. The FMCSA needs to put on their big boy pants and let those of us remaining to complete our job until retirement. The only real study conducted confirmed that there was little difference at the end of the day from those with ELD’s and those with paper logs.

  • Ya,,,ELGs can’t tell if a driver is sick or if his getting sleep can’t pull over to take a nap then drive that would put us in violation… and damned if I’m going to have a computer tell me if I’m tired or if I’m sick I’m not going to put other people’s life in jeopardy because of y’all stupid he logs if I get tired I’ll pull over sleep okay if I’m in violation I’m not going to put anybody’s life in danger because of a logs think about that

  • This is complete over regulation! Strapping a human being with an electronic timing device in which stands in the center of our economy is both trespassing and irresponsible!
    This is nothing more than a law that was paid for by larger companies to level the playing field. They are forcing their policies on us so that the owner operators and smaller companies will have no benefit to the shippers.
    “When you give up your freedoms in the name of safety, you’ll end up with neither”!
    This is going to cause a blow to the American economy as well as raise prices at the register. Either the drivers will have to be paid on a different scale to bring home more pay for less productivity or the trucks will be parked because truckers will not be able to afford the cost of living on the road along with a pay cut.
    Buckle up America!!!!

  • I completely understand the frustrations, no body likes being forced into using something (especially something they don’t want). Reading some of the above comments however, I cant help but feel the need to reiterate that the ELD Mandate is NOT making any changes to the HOS rules. If you’re commenting about constantly going into violation as a result of adopting ELD’s you’re openly admitting to not being compliant with the rules now. And thats the reason for the ELD Mandate.

    ELD providers such as Omnitracs offer mobile solutions that have no upfront costs and can give you plans that cost as low as $23 per month per truck. If that cost is enough to eliminate your profits or put you out of business it may be time to look at your operations and cut out inefficiencies at other levels.

    • hey collin, thats part of the problem, if one says that I violate the HOS then your hanging yourself. You must be able to see that, alot of drivers do it but cannot admit to for that reason. There is just no flexibility with ELDS, if I feel tired and pull over to take a nap it can bite me in the ass the next day because now I cannot start my 14 till later, plus the fact more and more shippers and recievers dont want you there early or when empty . I run paper logs, dont run like a maniac at all, but ELDS will change all that for me and I’m sure thousands of other safe drivers. just a bad idea for all the small businesses out there

      • forgot to add, I’m figuring on losing out on about $1000.00 a month due to ELDS because shippers and recievers holding me up for loading/unloading which inturn screws me up for my next pickup/delivery. So I will probably lose about 1 to 2 loads a month, thats looking on the bright side

  • $23 a month because OMNITRACS
    I will never get into OMNITRACS ELD soulution.
    They are NUMBER 1 reason ELD was implemented.
    YES I have $23 every month but not for OMNITRACS.

  • What about us small business owners that don’t go out past 100 mile radius of home base (out in the morning, back in the afternoon)? Plus, once my trucks are started they don’t turn off again until they are back in the yard; total miles might be 40 a day. We don’t run paper logs now, will we have to comply with the ELD?

  • Land of the free and home of the brave? You have traffic,delays at the border with customs inspectors,waiting time at shippers and receivers,the 14 hour rule,the 30 minute mandatory break,truck speed governed at 62 mph-why dont you just take our jobs and hand out welfare checks you clowns!If I want to work hard,be productive and bring in more money for myself the elog just doesnt let me-it forces me to become an average driver who is more regulated and less productive!The safety issue is just a smokescreen used by the big companies to make owner operators extinct.What made America great is liberty and the free market not overregulation.What about ltl carriers and those that run the eastern states where traffic is horrible? Just extend the 14 hours to 18 hours so drivers have time at least to get their 11 hours of driving in!What other profession is regulated like this where your e fighting against the clock to get your work in?Crazy law by crazy civil servants that have nothing better to do to justify their salaries!