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Trucking’s Regulatory Handbook For 2017 And Beyond – The ELD Mandate

It’s no secret: the trucking industry is experiencing some pretty big changes in regulations. Whether you are talking about electronic logging devices (ELD) or speed limiters, there is plenty to remember when it comes to staying in regulatory compliance.

Yet, when the rules change or are complex or confusing, keeping up can be difficult. So the best way to stay ahead of the game is to always have the right information. You have to know what it all means and how it affects your business.

In this new ongoing series, we are going to take a deeper look at all of the regulations that will impact our industry, from 2017 on. Today, we are going to take a look at the ELD Mandate.

The ELD Mandate

Let’s get right into the details. First, if you are operating vehicles using Automatic Onboard Recording Devices – which are essentially early versions of ELDs – you have an extra two years to upgrade your equipment to meet the new regulatory standards.

You can also be exempted if you are a short haul or time card driver. This includes vehicles operating within a 100 air-mile radius or non-CDL drivers who are operating within a 10 air-mile radius. One exemption to this rule includes any truck driver exceeding service limits on a time card for more than eight days in a rolling 30-day period.

Trucks manufactured before 2000 will also be exempt from ELD requirements for the simple reason that their onboard computers will not be able to interface with today’s advanced electronic logging devices.

Larger fleets welcome the new regulation mainly because of the number of benefits they get from using the devices. In a world of paperless logs, a fleet manager will be better able to discern and verify drivers’ records. If an accident occurs, the information will all be cataloged.

Things like acceleration and breaking data become easily accessible. Time presenting information back to inspectors can be cut in half.

What You Need to Know

When it comes to the type of ELD they use, fleets do have some leeway in meeting government requirements. ELDs can either be a dedicated device or can connect up to a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Motor carriers can also have data wirelessly transmitted to their facilities or downloaded by wire into a company computer every 13 days. There are specific requirements that, though complex, outline how the ELD should be used.

They include:

  • The ELD must automatically records at certain intervals.
  • The ELD must record date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles, and driver identification information.
  • The ELD must be available to be read outside the cab by a law enforcement officer or another authorized individual. Whether it is wired or wireless, it must be able to be handed to someone outside the vehicle.
  • When the vehicle is in motion the ELD must be mounted.
  • The ELD must capture locations down to within one mile. There is an exception here: When the truck driver is operating under ‘personal conveyance,’ such as driving an unloaded truck from a terminal or to their place of residence.
  • THE ELD must be tamper resistant and from an approved manufacturer. The data within the ELD must be encrypted to prevent hacking.
  • Anyone who drives the vehicle must have their own unique identification code entered into the ELD. Whether it be a mechanic testing the vehicle or a shop worker moving it from one place to another, they must have an identification number put into the ELD.
  • The ELD must have a mute button.
  • ELD logs must be kept on file for at least six months. Any log changes must be certified by the operator.

While this is just a base summarization of these complex rules, it represents the meat and bones of what you need to know. Join us in our next installment of this series when we take a look at the latest on the Safety Fitness Determination Rule.

How GPS Improves Truck Driver Behavior and Fleet Performance – Part II

Last week we took a closer look at how you can utilize advanced telematics and GPS technologies to improve your fleet’s performance. Whether you are looking at safety measured, truck driver performance or fuel savings, GPS can make a big impact on your bottom line.

Today we will dig into other aspects of GPS utilization to drive fleet performance. First up is how to mitigate or completely prevent unauthorized vehicle use.

Tracking Your Vehicles

The fact is, when your fleet’s vehicles are being used unauthorized, it eats up fuel costs and can cause maintenance and longevity issues down the road. By using GPS telematics, a wise fleet manager has access to a number of tools used to monitor after-hours vehicle usage.

First, you can use an odd hours report, which identifies when your vehicles are being driven on weekends or during other times when they shouldn’t be on the road. By setting up alerts, you can instantly be notified once a vehicle is put into motion.

Finally, when your truck drivers know this system is in place, it acts as a deterrent. When these systems are put into place, unauthorized vehicle usage declines.

Productivity to the Rescue

There are a number of ways you can use advances technologies to increase your fleet’s productivity levels. You can do things like tracking vehicle start and stop times and alert necessary parties when the systems reveal behaviors that don’t comply with company policy.

Increase your levels of customer service engagement through improving on-time arrivals. These systems allow your drivers to deliver their loads more efficiently. They can do more jobs without causing you to have to spend more money. Better routing also improves operational efficiency.

Your bottom line benefits because when your people are more efficient, you increase revenues. Through service-call and on-time delivery improvement you will satisfy more customers and deliver on a more agile and responsive level of service.

Getting More Out of Fuel

One of the things most on the mind of today’s fleet manager is fuel usage. This is one of the most important ways to keep carrier costs in check. But are you ensuring a focus on fuel is a company-wide endeavor?

By utilizing telematics and GPS systems you can give yourself the information you need to improve fuel efficiency. Things like excessive speed or idle time both uselessly drain fuel and add costs to your bottom line.

Some advanced systems even include a partnership with a national fuel card option. This gives you the power you need to maintain control over your truck drivers’ fuel purchases. You can both verify transactions and usage details in real-time and through reports.

How Coaching Helps

Are you coaching your people? If not, you may not be getting the most out of their performance. When you are trying to change truck driver behavior you need to do things like set goals, educate and coach them. Finally, they must be rewarded for good performance.

When you bring on new systems, you need to make sure your drivers embrace its use. Because of this, you must emphasize the positive aspects that this new technology brings to the table. Create procedures that clearly outline how the technology will be used and in what ways it will impact your people’s performance.

While you want to make it clear that noncompliance won’t be tolerated, make the primary focus of the program how the truck drivers can be rewarded for good performance and exemplary driving habits. Whether you give them a gift card, time off or something else, these types of systems can be used to motivate drivers and create better habits among your fleet.

In the end, through the use of a GPS or network telematics solution, you can do everything from cut costs to increase operational efficiency and process effectiveness. When everyone understands how these systems impact fleet performance, the whole team benefits.

What’s Going On With ELDs In Canada?

With all the talk of ELDs on this side of the border, we sometimes forget that the trucking industry is a North American operation, not just an American one. Our brothers and sisters in Canada are as much a part of the equation as we are.

And yet, despite getting ahead of the game where the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) standard is concerned, regulators north of the border are now struggling to catch up with the United States and have something in place by December of 2017.

Oh, Canada

Even though Canada has been considering the ELD devices since as far back as 2007, work didn’t begin in on a new standard until 2010. With a first draft completed in 2013, the Canadian rule was intended to follow the first ELD rule published by the FMCSA, but it was vacated by a Canadian court on the grounds that there was some ambiguity in the driver coercion clause.

Now, after deciding to wait, they are catching up to the U.S, who is now putting out the final rule. According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators’ Compliance and Regulatory Affairs Committee, they believed their initial decision was “justified.”

And even though the final rule was published at the tail end of 2015, Canada was a little burned because the U.S. didn’t involve them in the consultation process. According to a Canadian official, they were flummoxed as to why the U.S. didn’t include them, but reports that the FMCSA is now doing everything they can to resolve some of the differences between both policies.

By the time the final rule was laid out, Canadian officials met to determine what the differences were between the U.S. rule and the Canadian rule from 2013. They also set out to make whatever changes were required to align the two documents. This job was made all the more difficult by there being a significant number of differences between the policies.

Waiting for a Resolution

The final cut of the standard has now been completed and was revealed back in July. Industry partners and others involved in the process were allowed to comment and a final draft will be delivered to government ministers no later than April of 2017.

Although some say the timetable will be very tight, September of 2017 has been mentioned as the absolute final deadline before the Canadian rule must be delivered to the ministers. The extension is born mainly out of the fact that there are quite significant regulatory issues that must be worked through. Such examples include:

  • How to certify the devices.
  • Should current devices remain in service?
  • How should future ELD devices be certified?

Currently, Canada’s HOS rule call for ELDs, but only in a limited scope. Rule makers in Canada will likely need to put a grandfathering provision in place – much like the one we use here in the United States.

At the same time, the FMCSA is requiring that vendors self-certify. Still, they haven’t laid out specific policies or provided tools or test cases for companies to emulate. Individual jurisdictions in both countries are hesitant to set their own certification process, lest they run afoul of the final federal rule.

Yet because of the way the government is set up in Canada, the central government cannot force individual provinces to utilize a mandate applied to carriers operating within a province. The federal government can require ELDs for between provinces, but the provinces themselves must finalize the rules through specific legislation.

So what does this mean for the provinces themselves? While some have come out in full support of mandatory ELDs, others still haven’t bought into the idea and have clearly stated so. There are a number of positions being held, including the federal government’s. It looks like only time will tell how the ELD mandate debate will play out north of the border.

How GPS Improves Truck Driver Behavior And Fleet Performance – Part I

The fact is this: By coaching your drivers to operate using better driving habits is not only safe, it boosts your overall fleet productivity and profitability. But did you know that the answer to this lies in a simple GPS unit? This technology provides what you need to accomplish your goals.

GPS can help you improve fleet performance by providing you with a way to control your costs and vastly improve productivity, and you can do it all without causing an undue burden on your drivers. In fact, there are a number of ways in which truck drivers benefit and advocate for GPS use. Wireless management systems provide benefits for both the fleet and the operator.

By using a telematics solution like GPS vehicle tracking you can impact everything from truck driver safety to unnecessary idling and vehicle utilization. You’ll likely see gains in customer service and productivity, as well.

Using GPS data effectively and in a positive way allows you to motivate, coach and reward your drivers when they are exhibiting safe driving habits. Worried about buy-in? The best way to get them on board is to involve them in the process, straight from the beginning. Make sure you tell them straight from the start that you are not installing the tool to micromanage their job.

Usually, once your truck drivers begin using the system, they will realize that they can rely on it for important aspects of their job, from getting roadside assistance to verifying work time. GPS systems provide you with a way to improve behavior while providing you with a real return on your investment.

Impacts on Safety

Obviously, truck driver safety is likely the top priority for your fleet. And yet things like excessive speeding or other careless driving behaviors put that focus on safety at risk, day-in and day-out. When you have access to GPS tracking data, you can coach your people to driver safer.

One way you can do this is through speeding alerts. They can notify you or your truck driver in real-time when the vehicle is traveling in excessive speed. They can also give you specific data like location and time of day. You can be sent a text or e-mail when a speeding incident takes place.

You can also use speeding reports to get detailed data on any speed-related problems. You can have this information delivered daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your fleet’s individual needs. Trend reports and other levels of analysis are usually available, as well.

Beyond speeding, utilize GPS tracking to mitigate hard breaking, fast acceleration and more. Policies can be put in place to coach, train and motivate workers to practice safe behaviors on the road.

Cutting Idle Time

When one of your vehicles is sitting idle, it’s not only burning away money, it’s increasing engine wear and spewing out pollution for new reason. Did you know that it is estimated that medium-duty vehicles consume close to 2.5 billion gallons of fuel per year when sitting at idle? This amounts to around 67 percent of the entire amount of gas these vehicles consume to begin with. That’s a staggering number.

While your fleet can’t cut out idling time altogether, you can utilize GPS and remote monitoring technologies to make a serious dent in how much time your truck drivers idle. Some ways these systems can assist you in cutting idle time is through setting thresholds to determine which of your vehicles are going over preset idle times.

You can also set up customized alerts and utilize reports to control idle times. When you are able to compare idle time with fuel consumption, you can identify specific truck drivers or vehicles who may need training or maintenance.

In the end, providing your truck drivers with data and coaching on reducing idle times can only be good for both your bottom line and the environment. Join us in Part II of our series when we take a look at how you can reduce unauthorized vehicle use, increase driver productivity and actively manage fuel use and performance through the use of GPS devices and advanced telematics systems.




Have Trucking Companies Taken A Second Look At Productivity?

It’s easy to be fooled by the major technological advances that have taken place in trucking. One can be lulled into a sense that trucking companies are as productive as they should be, when this simply is not the case.

When the trucking industry was entering the Great Recession, there was a great deal of urgency in efforts to improve fleet productivity. As a result, in 2008 and 2009, motor carriers invested more in technology and quality than they had in the last 25 years. Then, in 2010 when freight demand began to improve, something happened.

Where the Money Goes

With weaker carriers having been driven out from the market, freight capacity shrinkage and higher rates followed, which allowed motor carriers to reap greater profits and operating rations. Suddenly fleets were resting on their laurels.

Combine that with a risk-aversion baked in from the after effects of the recession and you have fleets that saved their increased profits rather than investing them back into the business. Also, those profits might not be as grand as once thought. Most profit margins came in at 2 – 4% before tax, which is too low for trucking, which is a capital-intensive industry.

Whereas industries like manufacturing saw an appreciable jump in their productivity post-recession, trucking has not done so on a per truck basis. But why not? It would be logical to increase productivity on current assets rather than completely investing in new ones.

What fleets need to focus on are the essentials of operation. The definition of success isn’t about the number of trucks you have or how many truck drivers are in your fleet or the square footage on your warehouse space, it’s about how you manage those assets as a whole.

Take Accounting

If you don’t take an accounting of what you can improve on, you won’t know where to make the changes. Whether you are a small or medium size motor carrier, you need to determine what your productivity level should be for making a profit. This information must be broken down to the truck level.

As an example of what data to use or not use, don’t include fuel surcharges when you are creating your productivity numbers. Since the price of fuel fluctuates, you don’t want that kind of information clouding your productivity picture.

Better yet, fleets should use the fuel surcharge as a deduction against expenses. By doing this they can see whether or not the surcharge is even absorbing fuel cost increases.

Utilize Software

Are you operating with a transportation management system? Advanced software solutions allow you to track sales, planning and truck driver managers.

Through the use of a transportation management system, you can better organize your assets for optimal productivity. Still, many are held back by the fear of something new, or the desire to hold on to the old way of doing things.

Manage the data correctly and ensure real-time analytics to get a truer picture. You can also use systems to tie in electronic logs and other information, freeing up your drivers to focus on increasing productivity.

It’s All About the Truck

Too few fleets are focusing on the real culprit in the productivity battle: utilization. It’s no secret that the fastest way to improve your bottom line is to ensure parked tractors are put into operation. You must increase the productivity of your trucks on an individual level.

For many, in order to maximize truck productivity, they will need to maintain a higher drive ratio per truck than the simple one-to-one. By running trucks on extra shifts or over a longer period, productivity gains directly impact the bottom line. Fleets could also use extra or part-time drivers who can operate on Saturday or in the late evening hours.

If you can more efficiently slip seat a good tenth of your fleet, you could see tangible productivity gains. So next time you’re trying to figure out how to get the most out of your operation, take a second look at your pro

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