Despite protests in Washington DC and other cities, by independent truckers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is moving forward with its plan to begin enforcing the electric logging device (ELD) mandate. The implementation date of Dec. 18 comes amid speculation regarding potential delays.
The ELD mandate, which went into effect in 2015, has been in a voluntary adoption phase since then. However a study released by C.J Driscoll and Associates showed that complete conformation is far from reality. The study, which encompassed 529 fleet operators, found that 60% of commercial fleets were still using paper logs to record driver’s hours of service.
“We won’t be putting drivers out of service for simply failing to have an ELD, but if they’re not compliant with the hours of service rules or don’t have a paper record that shows that they’re compliant, they’ll continue to be put out of service,” Jon Dierberger, field administrator at FMCSA explained, during TU-Automotive’s Connected Fleets event. “That rule will remain in effect.”
Not a single owner operator, in that same poll, had implemented an ELD or planned to by Dec. 18.
Grandfathered-in automated onboard recording devices (AOBRD’s) that were installed prior to the Dec.18 deadline, would be allowed for a period of two years after that date. Following that date of Dec. 16, 2009 all devices must be ELD compliant. Any AOBRD’s that fail and need replacement, prior to that date, must be replaced with an ELD compliant device, according to Dierberger.
Registration of ELD’s with the FMCSA is mandatory, but does not enforce any kind of manufacturer validation, relying solely on self-certification. At present there are at least 80 different self-certified ELD’s registered with the FMCSA.
“As we go out and conduct compliance investigations, that’s when we find out just how compliant they are with the specification,” Dierberger explained. “So we are advising that motor carriers be very careful about whom they are doing business with. We do not regulate the vendors, we regulate the motor carriers.”
Training and Enforcement
Dierberger said that FMCSA training has begun for both federal and state inspectors but also noted that with 80 different devices out there, the agency can’t expect officers to understand how each individual device can be read or react to interfaces. The officers will look for certain data, which will be transferred directly from the device, for the officer to ascertain compliance with the hours of service rules.
Under the new rule, if the data transfer fails or is unavailable, devices must have a backup display or printout capability so officers can review hours of service data when transferal is not possible. Backup options to transfer data are telematics, including web services or email; or local options when there is no connectivity including Bluetooth and USB. USB would be the most prevalent local option, according to Dierberger.
“But we’ll have to see how the IT security people feel about that with the police officer having access to their systems, as a lot of them have very sensitive information on their laptops.” Dierberger added.
The Impact on Safety
The ELD mandate will impact 3.4 million drivers per FMCAS projections. The agency estimates that 1,800 crashes will be avoided and about 29 lives will be saved each year after full implementation.
“The biggest contributor to the level of accidents and fatalities is the increased number of miles driven.” Explained Harry Storck, global fleet technical specialist at AIG. “Mileage driven has increased in the last three years. It’s the exposure of the more time that you’re on the road and driving, the higher the exposure to claims.”
“Each accident with an injury is somewhere in the neighborhood of a $300,000 claim.” Storck said. “And with more and more people on the road that risk exposure isn’t likely to decrease.”
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