Have you heard? By 2017, truck operators will be federally mandated to use an electronic logging device (ELD). The rule will officially go into effect on December 16th, 2017. While many fleets are already volunteering to switch, if for nothing else than to utilize the benefits of this technology, the new rule will put a stamp on the total phase out of paper logs.
Once a fleet begins using an ELD, they will no longer be required to record and maintain paper logs. The rule requires truck drivers who may be currently using paper logs to move to ELDs, with a few exceptions, which we will cover below.
The rule also outlines specific safeguards against truck driver harassment, hardware specifications and supporting documentation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says the rule will save an estimated $1 billion in industry costs, mainly on the time and money that goes into maintaining extensive paper logs. Let’s take a look at each of the mandate’s key components.
Required ELD Use
The ELD mandate will apply to all truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty statuses. Exceptions include:
- Truck drivers operating vehicles built before the year 2000 and before;
- Truck drivers who keep records of duty status in eight or fewer days out a total of 30 working days at a time;
- Truck drivers in drive-away and tow-away operations.
The mandate does not require that ELDs track a vehicle or truck driver in real time. Furthermore, they do not mandate that the device include driver-carrier communication capabilities.
What they must be able to do is automatically record:
- Engine hours;
- Vehicle miles;
- Truck driver ID information.
The rule also requires that compliant devices be able to transfer the data stored on them during roadside inspections, whether it be “on-demand”, wireless, email, USB 2.0 or Bluetooth. The ELD must also be able to create a graph grid of daily status changes, whether on the units themselves or in printouts.
While fleets and truck drivers will no longer be required to keep paper logs, they must have supporting documents on hand, whether electronic or on paper, for every 24-hour period of on-duty time. They must also submit these supporting documents to their carrier within 13 days. The carrier must then hold on to the documents for six months.
The supporting documents include:
- Bills of lading, itineraries or schedules;
- Dispatch or trip records;
- Expense receipts;
- Electronic mobile communication records;
- Payroll records, settlement sheets or similar documents.
Harassment of Truck Drivers
Back in 2012, a similar ELD mandate was tossed out in court over its lack of protections against truck driver harassment. In accordance with that court ruling, the FMCSA’s new rule makes it expressly illegal for motor carriers to use the devices to harass truck drivers.
In addition to making it illegal to harass their drivers, the rule also puts fines in place for doing so. Additionally, it outlines a system by which truck drivers can report harassment.
But what exactly is truck driver harassment by ELD? The rule defines ELD harassment as any action by a motor carrier toward a truck driver when the carrier “knew or should have known” said action would interrupt a driver’s off-duty time. It goes on to define harassment as “involving information available to the fleet through an ELD or used in combination with, but not separable from the ELD.
There’s Still Time
While all of these changes may seem like a lot, fortunately motor carriers have until the end of 2017 to get them implemented. While it is estimated there will be some increased cost associated with the mandate, perhaps efficiencies in other areas will make up for the up-front cost.
Still, as the winds continue to shift on Capitol Hill, could we see even this rule relegated to infinite legislative flux? Only time will tell.