ELDs: Expect lots of detours

March 7, 2016
Dealing with the hidden details (or lack thereof) in the ELD mandate

After some 20 years  or so in the making, the regulation mandating electronic logging devices (ELDs) is here at last, still trailing dangling details. During the recent Outlook 2016 Omnitracs User Conference, Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Office of Compliance and Enforcement, advised meeting attendees to expect something of a “messy” period while multiple forms of hours-of-service logging are allowed. DeLorenzo’s cautionary warning was well-timed. Fleets are clearly worried about the lack of clarity concerning numerous elements of the new regulation. 

It is probably no wonder, therefore, that nearly 900 people registered to hear former FMCSA administrator Annette Sandberg discuss the ELD regulation and answer questions about the messier bits during a webinar presented by Fleet Owner and sponsored by Telogis. As it turns out, there are probably questions you do not even know you need to ask that have the potential to delay if not entirely derail your ELD compliance plans. Here are some of those regulatory details that can be a trip wire on your path to compliance:

◗ There are exceptions to the ELD mandate (of course), Sandberg told webinar attendees, but there are also exceptions to the exemptions. For instance, short-haul or time-card drivers, including CDL drivers operating heavy trucks within a 100 air-mile radius or non-CDL drivers operating smaller commercial motor vehicles within a 150 air-mile radius, are two exemptions, she said. If a driver exceeds the service limit for time cards for more than eight days in any “rolling 30-day period,” however, then that driver is required to use an ELD.

“That’ll be a little difficult for companies that have a lot of time-card drivers,” Sandberg said. “They will have to constantly look at which of their drivers in a rolling 30-day period might exceed that eight-day limit—Jan. 15 to Feb. 15 could be a rolling 30-day period—and those drivers would be required to have an ELD in their truck.” Got that?

◗  Approved ELD devices must be on the FMCSA list of certified ELD solutions, so you will need to check that list to make sure you are choosing a compliant solution. According to Sandberg, however, certified devices may later be decertified by FMCSA—a nasty turn of events for fleets that invested in that ELD. “The important thing for motor carriers is that they only pick an ELD that is on that certified list,” Sandberg said. “I also recommend that motor carriers do some additional due diligence.”

◗ What to do about rental trucks? While at one time it was proposed that rental vehicles be exempted from the ELD rule, they were not. Now rental companies will need to install an ELD or provide a means for the renter to plug one in.

◗ Outside mechanics are another case that will require some further clarification from FMCSA, according to Sandberg.  Say they do a test drive, she suggested. “The driving time has to be given to somebody, but if I took the truck into the shop, I don’t want it to be me,” she said. Right now, FMCSA is saying that they need an account number and a CDL number with name association [for everybody who moves the truck on the highway], but that may change. Stay tuned.

There are numerous “stay tuned” issues in the new ELD mandate.  If you’d like to learn more, the webinar is archived for your viewing online free of charge 24/7, along with several other ELD-related resources. Just let yourself in; the door is always open. Click on the On-demand Resources link at www.fleetowner.com.

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