Over the past two years three little letters have been the talk of the trucking industry. Some industry experts met them with absolute approval while others shook their heads with disapproval. Those letters are ELD.
What’s all the fuss about?
In terms of a simple explanation ELD stands for “electronic logging device”. Your company will attach it to your engine and its purpose is to track your driving hours.
Why is that necessary, I hear you ask?
Well, that’s a longer explanation. In 2012 President Barack Obama passed a highway legislation act called MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st century Act) It’s a long-term authorization created for the purpose of improving and building on the current surface transportation programs and any future ones. A part of MAP-21 is the ELD mandate.
The ELD mandate started as a proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The reason for the proposal was to prevent road accidents which were the result of drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
They then made this into an ELD rule, enforceable under the MAP-21 legislation. After a few amendments, the rule came into effect in December 2015. December 2017 was the final deadline for all commercial motor vehicles (CMV) to have had the ELD installed. By the end of December 2019 all CMV’s should be ELD compliant.
Phew, that’s a lot of words.
Why the change?
Ok, there is the ecological factor. Paper logs are, as the name suggests, paper and to make paper you need trees. As we all know, cutting trees is bad for the environment. Then there is the flow of information. Paper logs require time to get to the head office and they often get lost once they arrive. So, accessing information is hard. There is also the storage issue. Imagine you are a carrier with over a thousand trucks. All those paper logs. Not to mention that someone might temper with them. If there is even a tiny chance of misuse, an ELD device is worth all the hype.
So, what does an ELD do?
All ELD devices have GPS tracking capability so carriers always know where their trucks are. The main purpose of an ELD is to follow driver’s hours of service (HOS). A server in the Head Office automatically stores all daily events and backs them up. And all this happens in real time. The device automatically “wakes up” when you start the truck for the first time every day.
Devices also track sudden changes in driving like heavy braking and alert the Head Office and the driver whenever there is a violation. Violation of what? New legislation allows a trucker to drive a maximum of 11 hours a day and be on duty not more than 14 hours a day. The hours start as soon as you turn your truck on. After 14 hours of being on duty, you must have a 70-hour daily break. As a driver you have 70 hours in 8 days when you can work. Once the 70 hours are up, you must do a 34-hour reset to get another 70 hours.
For sure, every time there is a big change like this, it takes some time for companies and drivers to get used to it. It’s good then that there are companies who have already implemented the ELD mandate. Companies who have gone through the hard phase of getting used to the new devices. Companies who have worked out the kinks and now use the system to their own benefits. Companies like JDM Expedite.
Yes, that’s us. We started to use the Omnitracs ELD devices back at the beginning of 2018 and it has taken us a good two months to work out what the deal was. But once we had done that, it opened to us a whole new field of possibilities.
Suddenly, we could easily track all our trucks in real time with a click of a button. Not only that, but we could spend less time on all the boring administration and more time talking to our employees and business partners.
What did the drivers say?
We have always been honest about our drivers needs ever since we started the company. They weren’t happy to start with after years of using paper logs. There were some issues with training them to use the new system. And then there was the issue of productivity. Are the new rules equivalent to fewer hours on the road and less money?
Drivers get paid by a mile so the more they are on the road, the more they earn. There is the X-factor; time spent at the pickup and delivery, time spent in traffic jams and other unpredictable events. Truck owners argued the cost of implementing an ELD device. A new one might cost a few thousand dollars to buy and $70-$120 a month to maintain.
For a carrier who operates over a thousand trucks, that could mean a cool couple of million bucks to purchase and a monthly maintenance bill of between $70,000 and $120,000.
Still, you must ask yourself how much a human life is worth. Whether it was a truck drivers’ life or a bystander. Considering the Government created the ELD rule to prevent accidents due to driver fatigue, we as a company think it’s a price worth paying.
Over the last couple of years there have been a few attempts to overturn the MAP-21 legislation, but the US Congress has waved them all off.
What’s the verdict then?
After almost two years of experience with the ELD mandate, ELD devices and drivers using it, we surmise that it’s made truck dispatching easier. Our Fleet managers have addressed all the issues we and the drivers had in the beginning. We continue to coach our drivers on how to optimize their hours. Furthermore, we have trained our dispatchers to look out for even the minor things when planning routes.
Together with our ELD device manufacturer, we have worked tirelessly to solve any initial bugs in the system. Each of our employees is ELD and HOS certified. This means more miles and more money for our drivers, a better safety rating for our company and satisfied dispatchers.
We have made the ELD work for us. Join us by filling out an online application form or call us at 708-945-4585 ext. 4 to find out more. This way you get to find out for yourself.
Phone # : 708 – 942 – 4585 ext. 4