ELD rollout not without problems

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Annette Sandberg

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The rollout of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate in the U.S. has not gone smoothly, according to Annette Sandberg, CEO of TransSafe Consulting.

Speaking at the FTR Transportation Conference, Sandberg said “We have seen significant problems with the ELDs.”

The mandate went into effect last December, and an enforcement grace period was provided until April of this year.

“We did see some carriers take advantage of the grace period and not install anything,” Sandberg said. “To be honest, the grace period was needed. The FMCSA and CVSA were not remotely ready for this to take effect. They didn’t train law enforcement until November of last year and many officers weren’t ready to take enforcement action.”

Carriers using automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) to track hours-of-service electronically since before the mandate are allowed to continue using those devices, but many inspectors are unable to differentiate between the two types of devices, Sandberg said. AOBRDs don’t have to have file transfer capabilities, but enforcement officers have been fining drivers, thinking their device was an ELD.

“We have seen a significant number of violations written up at roadside where the officer writes the driver up when the driver doesn’t transfer the file when the driver has an AOBRD in the truck, and an AOBRD doesn’t have to do a file transfer,” she explained.

She also said many drivers don’t know what type of device is in their truck.

“I expect we will see those issues until December of next year when everyone has to go to the ELD, and all those systems have to transfer files,” she predicted.

There have also been issues with ELDs themselves. More than 340 vendors have “self-certified” their devices are compliant with the 460-page technical standard published by the FMCSA.

“Most of those are companies nobody ever heard of, which in my mind immediately made them suspect,” Sandberg said. “I believe some of these were created in a garage behind someone’s house and believe it or not, that is somewhat borne out by what we are beginning to see.”

She said many vendors are struggling to meet the requirements.

“If you’re a small carrier and didn’t have a lot of money to do additional due diligence and testing of devices and went with something based solely on cost, we have seen a lot of those cheap systems have difficulties and problems,” Sandberg said.

The FMCSA is beginning to send ELD manufacturers reports on their systems’ shortcomings related to file transfers.

“If you are looking to change systems, I’d strongly advise you to ask any vendor you are thinking about going with ‘What kind of list did you receive from the FMCSA about file transfer, what were your issues and what are you doing to correct those problems?’” Sandberg suggested. “Into 2020, I think we will see a fair number of those vendors shaken out of the system.”


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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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