It’s been a long road to be sure, but the end is finally in sight. December 16th of this year marks the end of the three phase implementation process for Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). This congressionally-mandated rule is meant to create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status data.
The good news is, it seems to be working. Surveys indicate that hours of service violations have significantly dropped in the two years since the “Phased-In” compliance phase began.
However, there is still work to do. Carriers and drivers who are found to be out of compliance by the start of Phase Three on December 16th can face significant consequences that could cause issues for their shippers.
The What And Why Of ELDs
An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle’s engine to automatically record driving time – for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording. By replacing paper logs, they significantly reduce the opportunity for human error in reporting. They also allow for electronic transfer of data to safety officials.
More importantly, by holding drivers and their companies accountable to critical HOS regulations, ELDs help create a safer work environment, ensuring that drivers take the breaks they need. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that the adoption of ELDs will result in as many as 1,844 fewer crashes annually – with as many as 26 lives saved each year.
A Three-Phase Approach.
Phase One was the “Awareness and Transition” phase. (February 16, 2016 through December 17, 2017.) The goal here was to gradually step up adoption of ELDs, encouraging carriers and drivers to voluntarily comply. During this period, they could use any of the following to monitor their records of duty status (RODS):
- Paper logs
- Logging software
- Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs)
- ELDs that were self-certified and registered with the Federal Motor Carrier
(Note: There are a few key differences between AOBRDs and ELDs. For instance, while AOBRDs generally record location data, they aren’t required to do so – nor do they interface with a truck’s engine.)
Phase Two was the “Phased-In Compliance” phase, which will come to an end this year. (December 18, 2017 through December 16, 2019.) This two year period from the end of Phase One did away with paper logs and other logging software, and allowed drivers to comply using two methods:
- AOBRDs that were installed and in use prior to December 18, 2017
- ELDs that were self-certified and registered with the FMCSA
Phase Three, the “Full Compliance Phase,” eliminates any wiggle room. After December 16, 2019, ALL drivers and carriers who are not exempt from the ELD rule must be using a self-certified ELD that’s been registered with the FMCSA.
What Are The Consequences Of Non-Compliance?
There are several. What’s more, they can add up in a hurry.
Drivers found without an operating ELD after the Full Compliance Phase has gone into effect (even those using formerly approved AOBRDs) face fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for each offense. (According to the North American Transportation Association, failure to comply with section 395.8 of the mandate has an average fine of $2,867, with the highest recorded fine being $13,680.)
Moreover, non-exempt drivers are placed out-of-service if they don’t have a compliant ELD solution – and they cannot be dispatched on their next trip until they are compliant.
Compounding the issue is the fact that these violations can extend well beyond the individual driver. If investigators determine a pattern of non-compliance, penalties can be assessed on every truck in a carrier’s fleet.
At the same time, shippers will also feel the burden if their carriers of choice fail to stay in compliance of the law. Though the shipper will not be financially or legally responsible, they will suddenly be faced with a potential capacity challenge as they seek to find a compliant carrier.
Make The Right Choice.
ELD compliance is being taken very seriously – not only by the FMCSA, but also law enforcement across the country. And the risks of non-compliance far outweigh any temporary savings your carriers may see by trying to circumvent the law.
At Averitt, we’ve been anticipating the ELD transition since the ruling was enacted in 2015. As a result, we’re positioned to help shippers avoid the pitfalls that come with non-compliance. Make sure your carriers of choice are also in compliance by December 16th so that your business keeps moving forward without any supply chain hiccups.