INDIANAPOLIS. It's been a bumpy road for ELD implementation and enforcement so far this year – and it doesn't appear to be getting much smoother this year.
The trucking industry continues to struggle with electronic logging device (ELD) adoption nearly a half year after hard enforcement began. But it's not just because of drivers – a lot of the struggles are due to inconsistent knowledge of law enforcement and poor quality by many ELD manufacturers, according to Annette Sandberg, CEO of TransSafe Consulting and former head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
"We have seen significant problems with the electronic logging devices," Sandberg, who now works with small and large carriers, told a crowd at the FTR Transportation Conference 2018.
The ELD mandate went into effect in December 2017, but full enforcement did not begin until this past April. That required that carries have either an ELD or the old automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD).
"We did see some carriers take advantage of the grace period and not install anything," she said. "To be honest with you, the grace period was desperately needed. FMCSA was not remotely ready for this regulation to take effect, which was unfortunate. In fact, they didn’t even begin training local and state law enforcement until November of last year. So many of the officer you see out at the scale houses weren't ready to take enforcement action or didn't know the difference between the two devices was aware how to actually do a file transfer."
The file transfer problem became a big issue during enforcement, Sandberg said. "We've seen a significant number of violations written up roadside where an officer writes the driver up for not being able to transfer the file when the driver has an AOBRD in the truck. And an AOBRD is not required to do a file transfer. So that's a big problem. People spent a lot of time challenging those violations."
Sandberg said that she expects to see this problem continue both from enforcement and drivers until December 2020, which is when AOBRDs will be phased out, and all drivers will be required to use ELDs. "A lot of drivers don't understand what they have in their truck," she said. "They don't know if it's an AOBRD or and ELD and whether they should be able to do a file transfer or not."
Another problem Sandberg sees with ELDs is the technical specifications.
"Anyone who has gone and looked at the registered ELD list – the registered vendor list – there is over 340-some vendors on there, " she said. "No most of those are companies no one has heard of. In my mind that immediately made them suspect… I believe that some of these were just created in someone's garage."
Shoddy work of opportunist ELD manufactures, Sandberg said, has become evident based on what has been produced over the past year. "We've seen a number of vendors struggle to meet requirements and some of that struggle is born on behalf of the carrier. So if you're a small carrier – say, five to 10 trucks – and didn't have a lot of money to do initial due-diligence testing on a device and you went with something based solely on cost, and you bought a cheap system, that's probably exactly what you have: a cheap system."
Sandberg said that the industry has seen many of those cheap systems have lots of problems. "And as everybody begins to transition from AOBRD to ELD, we're going to see more problems."
Any carrier looking to change systems, she said, should check with potential vendors to see what problems they have had and find out what they are doing to correct those problems before committing to an unknown ELD vendor.